Dear Dot: Will New Electric Charging Roads Charge My Hybrid Vehicle?



Dear Dot,

I recently bought a new Hyundai hybrid vehicle. I heard that Detroit (one of my favorite cities) is installing new roads that will recharge electric car engines. Will they also charge my hybrid electric?


Dear Karen,

A few years ago, Dot took in a breathtaking performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at Detroit’s incredible Beaux Arts Opera House preceded by dinner at one of the city’s trendy new restaurants. 

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Like you, Karen, I’m a fan of the Motor City, a moniker the city earned in the early 20th century thanks, in part, for being where the problematic but brilliant Henry Ford tested his first automobile on June 4, 1896. Detroit is also home to the first mile of concrete road in the nation and the country’s first three-way traffic signal. (Though perhaps Cleveland boasts the first traffic signal?)

Detroit’s charging road was just a twinkle in some engineer’s eye when I was there, but if I were to return today, would this innovation charge my plug-in hybrid vehicle? Or your Hyundai hybrid? (A primer for those of you not yet too familiar with eco-friendly auto options: A hybrid is a combination gas/electric that uses the electric battery (charged by driving) to supplement the gas engine, thereby burning less fuel. A plug-in hybrid goes short distances on full electric before switching to the gas engine. And a full electric is … fully electric.) 

But before I answer your question, Karen, let’s consider how these roads work. Wireless EV charging functions with the same technology as wireless charging for your phone. Electreon, the company that’s behind these charging roads, explains that copper coils are installed beneath the road and transfer energy to a receiver. To use the road, a driver must mount one of these Electreon receivers under their electric vehicle to activate the charging coils. Charging begins when the magnetic coils beneath the road and the ones in the receiver align. Receivers cost an estimated $3,500, although the company aims to bring that price down to $1,500. 

“Electreon installed technology in roadways starting in 2019 in Sweden and since has expanded to Germany, Italy and Israel,” reports a story in The Detroit News. “It's also working on forthcoming projects in Utah.” But Detroit’s one-mile stretch of road on 14th Street between Marantette and Dalzelle streets in the city’s Corktown district — opened in November of 2023 — is the first in the U.S. “The Detroit project is meant to test the technology's performance in real-world conditions and how to scale it,” the Detroit News wrote.

A plug-in hybrid Toyota Rav4 (with a typical range of 42 miles on full electric) set a record on an EV charging test track for the longest EV journey without stopping to charge, clocking in a total of 1,207 miles covered.

According to the EV Industry Blog by EV Charging Summit, there is only one vehicle currently sold in the United States that has a wireless charging receiver as a factory option — the BMW 530e sedan — a plug-in hybrid vehicle. 

Which makes clear that, with the appropriate device mounted beneath my plug-in hybrid, I could charge my vehicle on a charging road. But what about your non-plug-in hybrid, Karen? 

I reached out to Electreon for clarification. “We have successfully charged hybrid EVs before,” replied Keren Alleson Gerberg, the company’s media relations person. “If her vehicle has [Electreon’s] receiver installed, it can charge directly from the road.”

So there you have it, Karen. Pony up a cool $3,500 (soon to be much less, we hope!) and charge away.



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