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Is the electric road the path for the electric vehicle?

FILE: A Volkswagen ID.3 electric car charges outside the "Gläserne Manufaktur" ("Glass Manufactory") production facility on June 08, 2021 in Dresden, Germany. Research out of Utah State could make it easier to charge electric cars by providing electricity while you drive on a specific road. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Is the future of the electric vehicle not a better battery but an electric road that charges the car or semi-truck?

The first electric road opened in Sweden more than three years ago.

Vehicles account for more than a quarter (29%) of the US greenhouse gas emissions. So maybe it’s time to buy an electric vehicle. But you are having second thoughts because of the distance between charging stations and the cost of the electric vehicle versus a gas-powered car or truck.

What if you could charge your electric vehicle while you drive down the road, reducing the size of the battery and the price of the e-car?

It’s all being researched and tested at Utah State University in Logan.

Tallis Blalack, managing director of ASPIRE NSF (National Science Foundation) Research Center at Utah State University, joins Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega to explain the research that could make electric roads a possibility in Utah.

Road as battery charger

Blalack said in Germany there is a test road for semi-trucks that use electric cables above the road to charge the truck as it drives along the road. No exhaust fumes means better air quality.

“We have a technology that we’ve been demonstrating for a number of years at Utah State, which is actually better than that technology and that we think would work better for the US and for Utah,” Blalack said.

He compared the technology for charging electric vehicles to a wireless cellphone charger, like a car or truck driving over a battery charger.

“So you could have a lane in the road, and you drive over that, and you could charge your vehicle while you’re going, which dramatically reduces the cost of the vehicle because now you don’t need a huge battery. You can put in a much smaller battery,” Blalack said.

Smaller battery = cheaper vehicle

He said the cost of a battery for an electric semi-truck is more than $100,000 for a 500-mile trip. And the weight of the battery takes up a quarter of the cargo hold. But if the roadway could charge the truck, the price and weight of the electric battery would be reduced dramatically, he said.

Blalack said USU researchers are working on a chargeable parking spot.

“You don’t have to get out and take that cord and plug it in your car. You can just pull in and it’ll automatically start charging,” he said.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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