Michigan Debuts EV Charging Roadway

Michigan Debuts EV Charging Roadway

What if you could charge your electric vehicle while you were driving down the road?

That’s the future being created in Detroit, Michigan, where state officials and private companies have come together to create a roadway where EVs can be charged without plugging in.

Designed by wireless charging company Electreon at Michigan Central, the billion-dollar innovation center and subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, the quarter-mile section of 14th Street between Marantette and Dalzelle streets has been equipped with inductive-charging coils that will charge EVs equipped with Electreon receivers as they drive on the road.

People pose for a photo in front of an electric van.
(Photo courtesy of Michigan Central). Representatives from Electreon, the Ford Motor Company, the State of Michigan and City of Detroit pose for a photo to celebrate the completion of an experimental roadway in Motown that charges EVs as they drive along it.

According to a press release issued by Michigan Central, the road will serve as a testing site for this wireless technology before it’s made available to the public. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Electreon, a Newlab at Michigan Central member company, agreed to install a combined mile of inductive-charging roadway in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood. This first completed section of that system runs alongside the Newlab at Michigan Central Building, which is home to more than 60 tech and mobility startups.

“We’re excited to spearhead the development and deployment of America’s first wireless charging road,” said Dr. Stefan Tongur, Electreon Vice President of Business Development. “This milestone stands as a testament to our collaborative efforts with the State of Michigan and MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation), the City of Detroit, Michigan Central, Ford, Mcity, Jacobs, Next Energy, DTE, and others. Alongside Michigan’s automotive expertise, we’ll demonstrate how wireless charging unlocks widespread EV adoption, addressing limited range, grid limitations, and battery size and costs. This project paves the way for a zero-emission mobility future, where EVs are the norm, not the exception.”

This project was first announced by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in September 2021, and Electreon was awarded the contract to develop the test road in February 2022.

“Michigan has always been at the forefront of innovation in mobility, and that forward-thinking is on display with the latest advances in inductive charging from Electreon, the first deployment of this electric vehicle charging technology in the United States,” said Chief Mobility Officer Justine Johnson of the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. “This latest milestone supports the goals of the MI Future Mobility Plan to grow Michigan’s mobility leadership and proves that companies like Electreon can test and deploy the newest innovations right here in Michigan.”

A charger plugged into an electric vehicle.
Officials in Michigan believe that developing electrified roadways that electric vehicles (EVs) while they drive along them could be the catalyst to accelerate interest and acceptance of EVs for all consumers.

The EV charging road has inductive coupling between copper coils installed below its surface. EV test vehicles are equipped with receivers that receive electricity wirelessly from this buried system through a magnetic field. The system works when the vehicle is parked (static charging) or when it’s moving down the road (dynamic charging), and is reportedly safe for drivers, pedestrians and wildlife. Each coil in the road is activated only when a vehicle with an approved receiver passes over the coil, ensuring that energy transfer is controlled and provided only to vehicles that require it.

“For more than a century, Detroit has been known around the world as the leader in transportation innovation,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “We are the birthplace of the auto industry, and the home of the first mile of concrete road and the first three-way traffic signal. Today, thanks to Gov. Whitmer and our partners at Michigan Central and Electreon, we can add the nation’s first wireless charging public roadway to that list of innovations.”

Throughout early 2024, staff will use a Ford E-Transit electric commercial van provided by Ford Motor Co. and equipped with the Electreon receiver to test the system, the efficiency and operations of the vehicle, and potential long-term public transportation opportunities.

“Developing electrified roadways may be the catalyst to accelerate interest and acceptance of EVs for all consumers,” said MDOT Director Bradley C. Wieferich. “Making it easier for EV users to find a reliable charging source without disrupting their commute supports both fleet operations and passenger travel. We’re proud to collaborate with private industry partners and the City of Detroit to support these important initiatives leading us toward a more sustainable future with fewer emissions.”

MDOT and Electreon have entered a five-year commitment to develop the electric road system (ERS), piloting the technology on Michigan roads. Later this year, MDOT will begin seeking bids to rebuild part of US-12 (Michigan Avenue), a process that will include installing additional inductive charging components. Electreon has also installed two static inductive charging stations in front of Michigan Central Station, which will be able to charge Electreon-equipped vehicles while they are parked.

Electric vehicle charging stations.
GPRS’damage prevention services help ensure you avoid subsurface damage while excavatingfor the installation of EV infrastructure.

Keeping EV Projects On Time, On Budget, and Safe

MDOT and Electreon’s pilot program is just the latest example the ongoing effort to develop the nation’s fast-charging infrastructure. Funding continues to flow into the development of EV infrastructure, increasing the number of EV-related construction projects occurring across the country.

On January 11, 2024, the White House announced $623 million in grants to help build out an EV charging network across the U.S., which according to the press release, “will create American jobs and ensure more drivers can charge their electric vehicles where they live, work, and shop.”

“This is a critical part of the Biden Administration’s goal of building out a convenient, affordable, reliable and made-in-America national network of EV chargers, including at least 500,000 publicly available chargers by 2030 ensuring that EVs are made in America with American workers,” the press release stated.

As the country’s EV charging infrastructure continues to evolve and expand, subsurface damage lurks as the likeliest threat to derail these projects and waste federal and/or state dollars on downtime and repair.

A single utility strike can also endanger the lives of workers on site, and the surrounding community. Avoiding strikes keeps people safe and preserves funding which can then be redirected to additional EV infrastructure projects.

GPRS’ damage prevention services help ensure you avoid subsurface damage while excavating for the installation of EV infrastructure. Utilizing ground penetrating radar (GPR) scanners and electromagnetic (EM) locators, our SIM-certified Project Managers (PM) fully visualize the buried infrastructure on your site so you know where you can and can’t safely dig.

GPR is a non-destructive detection and imaging method for seeing inside concrete or underground. A GPR scanner emits radio waves, and then detects the interactions between those waves and any buried objects – both metallic and non-metallic. The interactions are displayed in a readout of hyperbolas that vary in size and shape depending on the type of material located.

Qualified utility locating technicians like GPRS’ PMs can interpret the data collected by GPR scanners and determine the location and depth of the subsurface infrastructure.

Like any technology, GPR has its limits. To compensate for these limitations, GPRS utilizes EM locating in concert with GPR scanning. EM locators detect passive signals emanating from buried electrical lines or active ones transmitted through known utilities, making it the perfect complement to GPR when conducting utility locates.

Avoiding subsurface damage during the installation of EV infrastructure ensures this new infrastructure can sit safely alongside existing utilities, and that the federal and state dollars used to support these projects aren’t wasted on costly repairs.

To ensure the vital subsurface infrastructure you need is at your fingertips throughout the life of your project, GPRS created SiteMap® (patent pending), our cloud-based infrastructure mapping software solution that allows you to safely and securely share your data 24/7, from any computer, tablet, or smartphone.

You receive a complimentary SiteMap® Personal subscription every time you hire GPRS to conduct a utility locate, so that you have instant access to the field-verified data we collect for you.

GPRS’ SiteMap® team members are currently scheduling live SiteMap® demos. Click below to schedule your demo and see how SiteMap® can help you plan, design, manage, dig, and build better today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are EV charging stations free to use?

There are some free public chargers available, but many chargers require payment with a fee based on how much energy gets transferred to the electric car. The rate can also be based on a per-minute of charging basis, battery size, the charger’s power, or the energy delivery efficiency to the vehicle.

Does GPRS offer same day private utility locating?

Yes, we’ve strategically stationed our team of Project Managers across every major market in the U.S., so we can rapidly respond to your jobsite, no matter where it’s located. Additionally, we are prepared to provide emergency same-day private utility locating services, if needed.

Will I need to mark out the utilities GPRS locates?

No, GPRS will locate and mark all utilities for you. We have a variety of tools and markers we can use to highlight the locations of utilities, underground storage tanks and whatever else may be hiding.