Remember when roads weren’t everywhere? Maybe not. However, they had to be built at some point. That was expensive. However, the current gasoline-powered road transportation system is old, unreliable, and inefficient because gasoline engines are unreliable and inefficient.
Electric vehicles today are riding on that infrastructure, which was originally built for gasoline-powered cars. Is that the best thing to do? Or is it time to build roads that are better suited for electric cars?
The solution could be the latter. Volvo appears to have some faith in it.
Volvo has developed an in-road charger for electric trucks and buses so that they can travel long distances (as do trains) without carrying large batteries on board. It also avoids a limitation that overhead power lines have. Unlike with overhead power lines, vehicles can drive on and off the road-mounted charger, and vehicles of varying sizes — from little cars to trucks — can draw power from it.
Volvo has been testing this on a 400-metre track in Hällered near its Gothenburg headquarters since last fall.
“We are currently testing how to connect the electricity from the road to the truck. The electricity flows into a water-cooled heating element, with similar power requirement as an electricity-driven truck,” says Richard Sebestyen, who is the project manager at Volvo Group Trucks Technology, which is the Volvo Group’s research and development division.
A great deal of research is required before this becomes a reality, but it is a promising long-term concept.
According to Mats Alaküla: “But, if we are to succeed in creating sustainable transport systems, we must invest significantly in research now. I am convinced that we will find a cost-efficient way to supply electricity to vehicles in long-distance traffic and we have already come a long way in our research.”
Many people doubt unusual concepts just because they are unusual, and argue for the status quo instead. Technological advancement does not take place without thinking outside the box (which is a clear deviation from the status quo). The reality is that some of the most thorough and complete solutions to the energy situation require infrastructure upgrades. Perhaps those upgrades should be transformative.