Michigan could be home to first wireless charging road for electric vehicles in the U.S.

click to enlarge Gov. Whitmer announced plans for wireless EV charging road on Tuesday. - Courtesy of the Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Courtesy of the Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Gov. Whitmer announced plans for wireless EV charging road on Tuesday.

Fix the damn roads? Look's like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to electrify our roads, er, well, a damn road.

On Tuesday, Whitmer helped kick off the opening ceremony for Motor Bella at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, and during her remarks, she revealed an initiative to develop the nation's first wireless charging infrastructure on a public road somewhere in Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb county.

"Michigan was home to the first mile of paved road, and now we're paving the way for the roads of tomorrow with innovative infrastructure that will support the economy and the environment, helping us achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050," Whitmer said Tuesday. "This project reinforces my commitment to accelerating the deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure in Michigan and will create new opportunities for businesses and high-tech jobs amidst the transition to electric vehicles." 

Unlike charging stations that require EVs — electric vehicles — to locate one but also stop and await the charge to take effect, the proposed one-mile-stretch of state-operated wireless charging road would charge the vehicles, including electric buses and shuttles, continuously as drivers travel.

OK — so we're not totally sure how this technology would work (here's a speculative and simple diagram) but the Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot program could be a major step in making EVs more appealing and accessible to car buyers, especially when you consider that, as of 2021, there are an estimated 1.8 million battery-powered cars on the roads in the US but only 120,000 charging plugs at 42,000 public charging stations, according to U.S. Department of Energy data. President Joe Biden has pledged to build 500,000 new EV charging plugs/ports by 2030, but experts say that might be a challenge as, by that time, a projected 35 million additional EVs could be on the road by then.

As for how much Michigan's Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot intuitive will cost? That's, yet, another uncertainty, but the Michigan Department of Transportation hope to issue a formal request for proposal on Sep. 28 in an effort to secure a partnership for funding, evaluations, testing, and, eventually, implementation of the wireless charging roadway.

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