A common concern when it comes to electric vehicles is charging. That includes the electric grid handling the growing demand or having enough charging stations where we drive. Thankfully, in the future, we could have roads with wireless charging built-in, and our cars can charge as we drive.
Stellantis, the company behind popular brands including Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and many others, has been working on a new inductive charging road system of the future since last year and testing it on a Fiat 500 EV.
Inductive charging inside roads and highways isn’t a new idea, and we’ve seen researchers create wireless charging roads, but Stellantis is taking things a step further. The company made a circular test track with inductive charging coils built into the street in partnership with a state-funded infrastructure project connecting several Italian cities.
Stellantis is calling it Arena del Futuro, which means “Arena of the Future” in Italian, and the results are quite impressive so far. Here’s a video giving you an idea of what this system looks like.
The “dynamic wireless power transfer” project” allows cars to drive on the outside of a 2-lane track, and that outer lane has wireless charging under the asphalt. While traveling at highway speeds, the test EVs don’t lose any battery power.
The test facility, located in Chiari, Italy, uses a system of coils to power cars, buses, and trucks with a power receiver equipped to the bottom. That energy goes directly from the road to the electric motors, allowing them to drive without running the battery down.
If Stellantis can offer this “cutting-edge freedom of mobility” technology to more roads, EVs of the future won’t need heavy battery cells to navigate around towns.
Here’s what Anne-Lise Richard, Head of the Global e-Mobility Unit at Stellantis, had to say:
“Our long-term strategic plan, Dare Forward 2030, is based on the premise of bringing ‘cutting-edge freedom of mobility to all and this project is the very essence of where we’re headed as a company.
Working with this incredible group of partners, we have proven that inductive recharging technology can power our electrified future. These joint projects are exciting steps as we work to achieve longer battery lifespan, lower range anxiety, greater energy efficiency, smaller battery size, outstanding performance, and lower weight and cost.”
The company says this new project can reduce much of the power loss from typical energy distribution processes, doesn’t need to convert DC power into AC power for charging the battery, and it uses thinner aluminum coils to complete the task compared to typical big copper wires. And for those unaware, aluminum is far cheaper than copper.
Obviously, redoing highways and roads everywhere with this type of technology built-in isn’t an easy (or budget-friendly) task, but we could see some version of this in the near future.