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Sweden is set to build another precedent in motoring, from the country that gave us three-point seatbelts, Sweden is constructing the world’s first permanent electrified road. This electrified road will allow electric vehicles (EVs) to charge while driving, cutting down time waiting in charging stations and allowing EVs in Sweden to travel further. 

Sweden's ambitious electric road initiative will be implemented on the E20 (E meaning Europe) highway, strategically positioned amidst the prominent urban hubs of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, as its initial phase. This groundbreaking endeavor forms part of a larger vision to electrify over 3,000 kilometers of Swedish roadways. However, a minor hurdle remains: the specific type of electric road technology to be implemented on the first motorway is yet to be finalized.

E20 Road Sweden Inline 1

The Swedes have been at the forefront of electrified road experimentation and have successfully tested three prominent solutions. In 2016, a two-kilometer section of road in central Sweden's Gävle was unveiled, featuring overhead electric lines enabling heavy vehicles to recharge using pantographs, akin to electric trains or trams. Subsequently, a four-kilometer segment in Gotland County employed an inductive system discreetly positioned beneath the asphalt, providing electrification. In 2018, Trafikverket made a significant stride by introducing the world's inaugural charging rail on a two-kilometer stretch, enabling electric trucks to lower a moving arm for power acquisition.

E20 Road Aerial View

These give Sweden three options on how to implement its electrified road, two of which involve overhead wires resembling city tram lines or undercarriage-mounted arms that connect to an electrified rail running alongside the road. This method, of course, will be highly impractical for regular motorists in Sweden. Imagine your EV having two ungainly arms on its roof like the ones you see on trains on the LRT, it’s ugly to look at and it would be a pain to lug around everywhere. 

E20 Roadside View Inline

The third and most practical solution for both cars and trucks is to construct an inductive system like the ones used in Gotland, which involves embedding technology within the road to transfer a charge to the vehicle's battery using an electromagnetic coil positioned underneath. This type of charging tech works the same way as the wireless charging function in most modern phones. Embedded beneath the road surface are pads or plates which charge vehicles equipped with a receiving coil as they drive along. However, implementing this tech will pose a bigger challenge as the E20 highway is 20.9 kilometers long, way longer than the four-kilometer test bed in Gotland County.

Should the inductive technology demonstrate success over an extended road section, it has the potential to revolutionize the necessity for larger-capacity batteries in EVs, meaning less weight, and potentially, less waste.

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