We’ve written before about the electric car market, its development and how the battery life in some models of car have improved. However, the biggest barrier to people buying electric cars is still the battery life. It doesn’t matter how green the vehicle is or how good the tax benefits, the bottom line question that people need an answer to is ‘How far can I travel on a charge?’ And for many electric cars, that’s not very far. They are great for running around the city where you’re not doing many miles, but for longer road journeys, the fear of running out of power is still a huge barrier to buying an electric car.
There are many research projects going on around electric cars. Some trying to improve and extend the life of a battery charge, others like Highways England feasibility study looking at charging on the go. The result of which is the first UK trial at a testing site that will allow cars to charge on the go.
The trial will begin later this year and will involve building a test site that has equipment installed underneath the road. Vehicles will be fitted with wireless technology that will allow them to charge their batteries as they drive along the road and the research will be carried out under various motorway conditions.
Whilst this is the first trial of its kind in the UK, the technology has been trialled and used effectively in Korea where buses can charge while driving on specific routes. The cables buried below the road transfer energy via magnetic resonance.
With the drive to reduce emissions from vehicles and improve air quality the ability to charge as you go would have a big impact on the uptake of electric cars. In addition it could open up opportunities for businesses that currently transport goods by road.
Speaking about the project in a recent statement Transport Minister Andrew Jones said “The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities. The government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector. As this study shows, we continue to explore options on how to improve journeys and make low-emission vehicles accessible to families and businesses.”
In addition to the trialling the charge as you go for electric cars Highways England has also made a longer term commitment to installing charging points every 20 miles along the motorway network.
Highways England Chief Highways Engineer Mike Wilson said:
“Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever increasing pace and we’re committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emissions vehicles on our England’s motorways and major A roads.”
The project is expected to last 18 months, and subject to the results may be followed by on road trials.
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