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Electric motorways to charge eco cars as they drive

Range anxiety may become a thing of the past for electric and hybrid car owners as the government is about to test ‘electric motorways’ that can recharge a vehicle as it drives.

The details are shrouded in mystery, according to the Independent’s report, but we know the government has already spent £200,000 on investigating the feasibility of a “dynamic charging system under the surface of the road”.

The idea is that, as you drive along in an electric or hybrid car, the motorway would use an electromagnetic transmitter in the road that can induce voltage in a vehicle fitted with a receiver so voltage can pass between the two, much like how wireless charging in smartphones works.

This would mean less or no need to pull in and wait while a typical electric car charger fills up your battery or simply longer ranges between charging.

The investigation began in September of 2013 and will end in September of this year, the findings of which will only be revealed once a contractor has been appointed to make the idea a reality.

In the meantime, off-road testing will begin later in 2015 using electric roads that can replicate the sort of conditions experienced while driving on a motorway.

Highways England spokesman Nic Brunetti said: “An important part of managing the road network over the next thirty years will be preparing the infrastructure for a shift to new types of vehicles and technology.”

“We need to plan intelligently for the future. Innovative technologies offer opportunities to make the best use of road capacity and to improve the road user experience,” he added.

A stretch in South Korea already has a section of electric road that stretches for seven miles designed solely to charge electric buses so this is hardly a new idea. Whether it becomes a reality on British roads is another thing entirely – such a project is going to be expensive to implement.

Electric car batteries are a major mental hurdle when considering an electric car, mainly because they cost a fortune to replace so the resale values are weaker (although this is said to be improving) and currently only the pricey Tesla Model S offers a range that can cope with journeys across the country.

But progress is being made to improve the situation, including the building of electric car chargers along main routes and, even better, technologies such as StoreDot’s that could charge a lithium-ion battery in a car in just three minutes.

Electric cars are still too expensive for most drivers, but it seems the government sees a future for them after all. Would you consider one?

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