The state that's home to America's first paved road may be the first state to get its first EV charging one.
Yesterday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that it had selected the Israeli company, Electreon, to help build out the electric road system in Detroit as part of an inductive vehicle pilot program.
"As we aim to lead the future of mobility and electrification by boosting electric vehicle production and lowering consumer costs, a wireless in-road charging system is the next piece to the puzzle for sustainability," said Governor Whitmer in a statement. "I am happy to see Michigan lead and keep building on these ground-breaking initiatives creating new business opportunities and high-tech jobs. Together, we will continue growing our economy and putting Michiganders first."
The pilot project was first announced in 2021 and since then the state's department of transportation has been vetting potential candidates.
Electreon, the newly announced winner of the pilot bid, has already developed initial roadways across Europe in Sweden, Italy, and Germany and in its home country of Israel.
"This is such an exciting time for the Motor City and the entire state. Michigan continues to lead the charge on electric vehicles, and this investment in the first public wireless in-road charging system in the U.S. further solidifies our position as a leader in EV technology," said U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. "Public-private partnerships like this is how we will promote innovation and outcompete the rest of the world. I applaud Electreon for receiving this award, and I'll continue to champion investments in electric vehicle infrastructure."
Other partners in the project include DTE Energy and Ford Motor Co., which clearly has a more than passing interest in seeing EV charging tech commercialized.
One of the big obstacles to greater adoption of electric vehicles is the availability of charging stations and options for the cars, trucks, and vans that'll soon be hitting America's highways in greater and greater numbers.
Ford has already boosted production for its highly anticipated electric pickup truck and recently began production of its cargo vans, as TechCrunch scooped last month.
"We're excited to be transferring our success in wireless charging for a variety of electric fleets - from cars to buses and heavy-duty trucks - to this innovative project," said Stefan Tongur, vice president of Electreon, in a statement. "There's important work ahead with our partners in Detroit to develop scalable, 'plug-free' charging that will future-proof the city's EV infrastructure."
The roadway will be located in the Michigan Central district, where Ford Motor Co. is restoring the old Michigan Central train station to develop self-driving vehicles.
Meanwhile, Indiana is also looking to be a new home for wireless electric vehicle charging.
“We expect to reach the second phase of the project, testing on a public roadway within one to two years,” Scott Manning a spokesperson Indiana Department of Transportation told The Seattle Times, in an article last year.
That timeline puts Indiana behind Michigan's launch date for the first electric roadway, but it's clear that more of these projects will be needed across the U.S. as electric vehicles roll out.
In December 2021, the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation signed an agreement to create the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to help spend $7.5 billion on new national charging infrastructure.
“Transportation is responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions of any sector in our economy - so it can and must be a big part of the solution to the climate crisis,” said Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With this announcement by DOT and DOE, we are taking a big step forward on climate by helping make the benefits of EVs more accessible for all Americans.”