On Getingevägen, Evolution Road and the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) are running tests to charge driving electric vehicles via an integrated rail on the road. Elonroad, the company that is behind the technology, just received 22 million SEK from, among others, Bring and starts testing its technology in Helsingborgs harbour: ”It has become a total ketchup effect”, says Elonroads CEO Karin Ebbinghaus.
Elonroad was founded by Dan Zethraeus in 2014 when he had the idea to charge electric vehicles while driving. An electric rail on the road and a conductive pic-up below the car make this process possible. The Swedish Transport Administration liked the idea so much that they chose it as one of four electrical road technologies that are now being tested and analysed in Sweden. One of the advantages with Elonroads technology is the possibility to reduce the amount of batteries in vehicles without any effect on transportation time, provided that there is an extensive charging system installed. All types of electric vehicles could be charged with the integrated rail on the road, whereas charging from above is more suited for big vehicles such as trucks and busses.
Elonroad is ready for the next step as soon as the rails are set on the test road at Getingevägen. Then the company will take in 22 million SEK, provided by among others Bring (owned by the Norwegian Post), Almi Invest Greentech and the EU Initiative EIT Urban Mobility.
Karin Ebbinghaus, CEO at Elonroad, what are going to use the investment money for?
– We will prepare for the commercialisation. That implies that we will work with certifiying products according to different standards as well as making some improvements. We make the rail simply more production friendly.
The idea is that Elonroad can then already deliver their technological solution on a bigger scale by 2022. Additionally, they have gotten two new orders.
– We will build two stationary pilots for Bring, one in Sweden and one in Norway, says Karin Ebbinghaus. This the first time that one tests electric road technology in Norway. Bring is owned by the Norwegian Post and in Norway they largely publisiced that they invested in a Swedish Electric Road company to test it. We already got many requests, the interest for electric road technology is big on the Norwegian side.
It is also set that electric rails for stationary charging will be installed in Helsingborgs harbour as part of the exhibition H22. There, electric vehicles can charge while they stand still.
But why does Elonroad invest in stationary charging when the idea was to charge while driving?
– The stationary charging doesn’t mean that we don’t want to have electric roads but it is one step on the journey, says Karin Ebbinghaus. If we imagine an evolutionary e-mobility journey than the first step is the stationary charging. Our rails have the advantage that we can use the same technology regardless if the vehicle stands still or has a speed of 120km/h. We widened our scope from being an electric road company to becoming a charging infrastructure company which does both electric roads and stationary charging.
– To make that possible and simplify electric vehicles is part of the journey. Most of us only like changes when they simplify or improve our life, and with this technique you only need to park on the rail to start the charging. For the one who wants to have high efficiency their way it can be good to skip connecting the vehicle with a cable every time one wants to charge and there our solution can help. That can make more people want to the change.
Another step on the journey towards more electric roads could be to expand the stationary charging with a closed system of mobile charging, for example in a harbour or between a harbour and an industrial area.
– We want to find the spot where a part is economically sustainable in itself, continues Karin Ebbinghaus. One could imagine that several brand owners share a common solution instead of installing charging stations at their own place. For example, we also know that there are energy companies that are interested in solutions where the same vehicle goes forth and back. We can build smaller nodes and then build the nodes and electric roads together. It is important that one starts testing on a bit bigger scale and not only in a pilot. We hope this can happen within the coming two-three years.
In the rails of Elonroad Elonroads is not only a technology integrated that charges the batteries of passing vehicles but there are also sensors that identify which vehicle is charging at the moment which makes a pay-system possible. But there exist more advantages with having inbuilt possibilities to steer the charging.
– If you can spread out the charging [process] of still standing vehicles over the day than the charging can also become easier and cheaper. We can communicate with the battery status and can adapt the charging to every vehicle and can additionally charge when electricity is cheapest or have algorithms that have an overview so that we charge when the electricity is really green.
The rail will also provide another interesting information.
– The rails temperature sensors will ”know” if there are icy roads later on and we would want to give that information to road users. It is also possible to register vibrations which can give away if a vehicle is too heavily loaded.
Elonroad was founded in 2014 by Dan Zethraeus and has, among others, Lund University’s holding company as a part owner. Now, Bring Ventures invest 5 million SEK and Almi Invest Greentech contributes with med 8 million SEK. The EU-initiative EIT Urban Mobility and other private actors are also participating. The investments mean that the team of 12 employees will grow a bit at the facility in South East Lund.
The project Evolution Road got the mission to build a demonstration site for electric roads from the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket). The goal is to produce more knowledge about electric roads and analyse the potential for electric roads as part of a fossil free transport system of the future. The project started in 2019 and will run until 2022. The demonstration site consists of a kilometer long path that is part of the regular road Getingevägen in northern Lund. The project happens through a collaboration between nine partners: Elonroad AB, Innovation Skåne AB, Kraftringen Energi AB, Lunds kommun, Lunds Faculty of Enginerring, Ramboll, Skånetrafiken, Solaris Sverige AB and the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute VTI). The Swedish Transport Administration provides most of the funds. Read more about the project on: www.evolutionroad.se.
Translation: Christin Scheller