Power Trips

Australia’s First ‘Electric Highway’ now open

The days of electric vehicle owners in Perth suffering ‘range anxiety’ are over as seven councils in the state’s South West have finished building Australia’s first ever ‘electric highway’ of fast-charging stations between Perth and Margret River.

The RAC WA says that its RAC Electric Highway will help develop an electric vehicle industry in the west, while at the same time supporting local communities and businesses.
While this project will be a game-changer for WA’s EV owners, it pales in comparison to the 100,000 mobile charging stations planned to be in operation in Seoul Korea before 2018, bringing that nation’s total number of stations to 200,000.

In the UK, Highways England, the government organisation responsible for road infrastructure maintenance, is pushing the electric envelope by beginning tests on a new road surface “where the roads actually charge your car as you drive”.

The test team plans to install the wireless charging technology in a number of cars and drive them on a specially-built road with the inductive charging built into the road itself.

Highway England’s moonshot proposal is to install plug-in facilities every 48 kilometres along the country’s motorway network.

A similar trial is already underway in Gumi, South Korea where a 12 kilometre stretch of road charges up electric buses as they drive along it using a process called Shaped Magnetic Field In Resonance (SMFIR).

This involves the transfer of electric charges via magnetic fields that are generated and captured by coils installed in the road and buses.

These power strips are buried no deeper than 15 per cent of the road surface, which means that only certain sections of the roadway need to be dug up and replaced.

Currently there are two online buses using the OLEV technology, with 10 more to be added before the end of this year.

A similar ‘on-the-go’ charging system developed by US computer chip manufacturer Qualcomm has been fitted to an experimental electric version of a Rolls Royce Phantom and retro-fitted to a number of Citroen C1 cars in the UK.

Closer to home, Tesla is planning a network of 16 supercharger stations at key locations between Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney by 2016.

However, there are no plans to build a network of publicly accessible fast-charging stations in Victoria at this stage.

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