Detroit Rolls Out Wireless Charging for Electric Cars on Public Roadways

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Detroit is pioneering innovative technology to charge electric vehicles on city streets. In a partnership with a local energy startup, Detroit has installed wireless charging pads below the asphalt on a downtown public roadway.

As electric vehicles drive over the pads, their batteries will automatically recharge using magnetic fields, eliminating the need to plug in. This pilot program is the first in the US and aims to demonstrate how wireless charging infrastructure can increase the convenience and adoption of electric vehicles.

First Wireless Charging Road for EVs in the US.

MDOT partnered with Electreon, an Israeli company developing wireless charging technology for EVs, to install inductive charging coils under a quarter mile of 14th Street in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. – Electreon’s technology allows EVs with special receivers to charge while driving over charging road segments.

Source: Wireless Flare

The City of Detroit owned and maintained 14th Street, allowing MDOT and Electreon to test the technology on an actual roadway. Governor Gretchen Whitmer voiced strong support for electrifying Michigan’s transportation system. MDOT and Electreon entered a five-year agreement to continue developing wireless charging technology on Michigan’s roads following the success of the 14th Street pilot.

A Promising Initiative

The initiative, announced in September 2021 by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, aims to position Michigan as a leader in sustainable transportation.

Source: Yahoo News

According to Dr. Stefan Tongur, Vice President of Business Development at Electreon, the company providing the wireless charging technology, “Alongside Michigan’s automotive expertise, we’ll demonstrate how wireless charging unlocks widespread EV adoption, addressing limited range, grid limitations and battery size and costs.” Extensive testing will begin in early 2024 using a Ford shuttle to evaluate efficiency, operations, and potential for public transit.

Collaboration With Top Detroit-Based Companies

Partnerships with automakers like Ford will allow further testing of the technology. Ford provided an electric shuttle bus for testing on the 14th Street segment. The testing will evaluate the efficiency and functionality of wireless charging for public transit and private EVs.

Source: Unsplash/Sebastian Stam

Detroit’s mobility innovation district, Michigan Central, also collaborated on the project. Michigan Central is home to over 60 tech and mobility startups, and the wireless charging road runs adjacent to their building. “We are excited to partner with MDOT, the City of Detroit, and Electreon to bring the future of roads to Michigan,” said Michigan Central CEO Joshua Sirefman.

How It Works

The wireless charging system uses electromagnetic fields to transfer energy between two coils – one on the roadway and one on the vehicle. As an EV drives over the charging coil on the road, the magnetic fields created by the two coils transfer energy to the vehicle’s battery. The contactless system eliminates the need for EV owners to plug in their vehicles to charge physically.


The new wireless charging roadway is expected to be tested through 2023 using a Ford E-Transit van equipped with an Electreon receiver. MDOT and Electreon have committed to a five-year partnership to continue developing wireless charging infrastructure on public roadways in Michigan.

How Wireless Charging Technology Works to Charge EVs on the Go

Detroit recently installed the first public wireless charging roadway in the US for EVs. The quarter-mile stretch of roadway on 14th Street contains inductive charging coils below the road surface that provide power to compatible EVs.

Source: The Eco Experts

The wireless charging system consists of two main components: charging pads installed under the road that transmit power and receivers installed on the underside of EVs that receive the power and charge the vehicle’s battery. The charging pads, developed by Electreon, contain copper coils that create an electromagnetic field used to transfer energy to the receiver.


While promising, some challenges remain before wireless charging can be widely implemented. The technology requires compatible vehicle receivers to function, and the estimated cost for individuals to install receivers ranges from $3,500 to $1,500.

Source: Unsplash/ Moritz Kindler

Widespread adoption will also require expanded charging capacity and clarification on whether public use of the infrastructure will be fee-based. However, wireless charging could revolutionize how EVs are powered if it can be made convenient, affordable, and scalable. The Detroit pilot program is an important first step toward that goal.

Initial Infrastructure Investments

Installing wireless charging coils under road surfaces requires a sizable upfront investment. According to estimates from Electreon, the company behind Detroit’s new wireless charging roadway, installing wireless chargers at intersections where vehicles stop for long periods can cost around $3,000 to $10,000 per charging spot.

Source: Unsplash/Alex Radelich

More broadly, widespread wireless charging adoption would require massive infrastructure overhauls to install charging pads along roadways across cities and states. Expanding charging across a quarter-mile stretch of roadway, as Detroit has done, likely costs several hundred thousand dollars.

Compatibility and Access

For wireless charging to benefit all EV owners in a city, vehicles must be equipped with compatible receivers to use the charging infrastructure. At present, few EV models come standard with wireless charging capability, and retrofitting vehicles with receivers is estimated to cost $1,500 to $3,500 per vehicle.

Source: Chariot Motors/Raimond Spekking

Cities must work with automakers and receiver manufacturers to drive down these costs and ensure all EV owners can access wireless charging networks. Wireless charging could revolutionize how EVs are powered if made convenient, affordable, and scalable.

Energy Usage and Billing

Deploying wireless chargers across a city can substantially increase the energy load on utility grids. Cities must evaluate if energy infrastructure can handle increased demand and work with utilities to source additional renewable energy.

Source: Flickr/Marco Verch

There are also open questions about how EV owners will be billed for wireless charging and if rates will be comparable to home charging costs. But it is also unclear if using the public charging infrastructure will incur fees.

Reduced Range Anxiety and Increased Flexibility

The wireless EV charging road system has the potential to significantly reduce range anxiety for electric vehicle owners and make EVs more appealing to prospective buyers. With continuous charging available while driving, EV drivers do not have to worry about running out of battery or planning trips around the locations of stationary charging points.

Source: Rawpixel

The in-road charging pads provide constant access to power for properly equipped EVs traveling over them, especially in harsh, cold weather conditions when EV efficiency and range are typically lowest.

Convenience Offered on The Move

Unlike stationary chargers, the wireless in-road system provides flexibility and convenience. EV drivers do not have to stop, park, and plug in to charge. The process is automated as the vehicle moves over the copper coils embedded in the road.

Source: Daily CSR

This allows drivers to charge their EVs during their normal route or commute. With further testing and improvements, wireless EV charging roads could make recharging EVs as easy and convenient as refueling conventional vehicles.

The Future of Wireless Charging Roads

The wireless charging road in Detroit represents an innovative solution that could accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). By changing the charging model, the technology provides an alternative for range anxiety and a convenient way to charge EVs on the go.

Source: Wallpaper Flare

According to Stefan Tongur, vice president of business development for Electreon, the company that developed the technology, testing will continue for another year before individual drivers can acquire the necessary receivers to power their EVs wirelessly.

Electreon’s Future Revolution

According to Tongur, the idea for wireless EV charging roads came about in 2010 as an alternative to stationary charging points, particularly for long-haul heavy-duty trucks. “The question was, how do we electrify these big vehicles? They can’t carry around big batteries, so how do we solve it?” he said. “Why don’t we charge them while they are driving?”


Electreon has already completed wireless charging road projects in Israel, Sweden, Germany, and Italy. Additional projects are planned for France, Norway, and China. In the U.S., Electreon is part of a demonstration project at Utah State University.

What This Means for the Future of EVs in Detroit and Beyond

The installation of Detroit’s first wireless charging roadway for electric vehicles signifies promise for the future of sustainable transportation. This quarter-mile stretch of electrified road on 14th Street will serve as a testing ground and model for further developing wireless charging infrastructure across the city and state.

Source: Unsplash/ Bob Osias

With Michigan’s long automotive expertise and innovation history, the wireless charging road helps establish the state and Detroit as leaders in developing sustainable mobility solutions. This exciting project paves the way for a future where EVs are the norm and charging are as simple as driving down the road. The future is here, and it’s wireless!

Detroit Holding the Crown

Detroit has long been an innovator in transportation, so it’s no surprise that Motor City is pioneering wireless charging roads. The nation’s first inductive charging public roadway debuted on 14th Street in Corktown, allowing electric vehicles with receivers to charge while driving.

Source: Flickr/ Ken Lund

“For more than a century, Detroit has been known worldwide as the leader in transportation innovation,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “We are the birthplace of the auto industry and the home of the first mile of concrete road and the first three-way traffic signal.

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Charlotte Clad

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