05 Sep
Will the motorways of tomorrow have a charging lane for electric vehicles?

UK government announces plans for ‘electric highways’

While New Zealand has been relatively slow to adopt electric vehicles, they're proving to be successful in more populated and compact markets where their efficiency can really shine. Over in the UK, for example, the number of new registrations for plug-in cars skyrocketed from just 3,500 to nearly 40,000 in June 2015, according to Next Green Car. 

These are impressive statistics and are a testament to the technology, but nevertheless there is one thing still holding many people from going electric: charging.

In previous articles, we've taken a look at how Tesla has invented an automatic charger, but England is set to take things one step further. Earlier this month, the UK government announced plans to roll out experimental technology that will allow cars to charge while driving, completely wirelessly.

The benefits of the electric highways

Dubbed 'electric highways', the system is the first of its kind and will enable drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) to keep their batteries juiced up for extended periods of time. This effectively allows EVs to achieve something never before possible: the ability to travel long distances.

The government has already poured some £500 million into the project, but UK transport minister Andrew Jones is confident the electric highways will pay off by promoting growth within the industry.

"The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities. The government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector, said Mr Jones.

As this study shows, we continue to explore options on how to improve journeys and make low-emission vehicles accessible to families and businesses."

The electric highways are set to enter a testing phase later this year.

Understanding the future impact of this technology

The highways are very much still in the testing phase and will initially be trialled in an off-road setting. The ongoing experiment will involve equipping cars with wireless charging technology in an environment that replicates the driving conditions of a traditional motorway. 

The trials are set to begin later this year and will run for around 18 months. If they prove successful, it's very possible that the UK could expand the trials to real road use.

From a local perspective, it's exciting news, as the electric highways remove some barriers that are holding so many fleet managers back from adopting EVs. Will future drivers be able to benefit from using a fuel card on electric highways? Only time will tell.