Electric cars could be charged on Scalextric-style roads

Electric cars could be charged on Scalextric-style roads
A new government proposal could see electric cars being charged wirelessly as they drive, with charging pads built into roads topping up batteries on the go.

The intriguing £40 million scheme, floated as part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) zero emission strategy, works in a similar way to Scalextric toy cars.

But unlike the popular toys – which take power from their track through a metal contact – the new wireless scheme works without any direct contact between the vehicle and the highway surface.

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Under the DfT’s plan, wireless charging points would be installed under roads and motorways, at service stations and in car parks.

New residential and commercial buildings would also be built with electric car charging points.

The system works using a process called electromagnetic induction, in which the magnetic field in a charging pad transfers electricity to a receiver in the car’s underside.

The innovative technology has already been successfully trialled on a small scale by smartphone chipset manufacturer Qualcomm. Last year it created a 100-metre stretch of road that charges cars as they drive along, even at high speeds.

Each vehicle tested received a steady 20 kilowatts of power during the demo – only slightly less than the 22 kilowatts which most public car-charging points in the UK provide.  

A number of companies including BMW already offer commercial options for wireless charging in their high-end all-electric vehicles.

David Martell, of the electric car charging company Chargemaster, told The Times: “Wireless charging will make driving an electric vehicle as similar as possible to driving a petrol or diesel car but without frequent trips to the petrol station.”

The government’s latest initiative comes amid a series of other recent moves to improve infrastructure for the UK’s growing number of electric cars.

Earlier this year, London switched on 100 more charging points.

And Mayor Sadiq Khan says a total of 150 new plug-in points will be introduced in the capital over the course of 2018.

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