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Roads of the Future – Electric, Solar, or Something Else?

John Day

John Day

Posted May 29, 2014

Volvo wants to study the potential for electric roads able to charge city buses.

Working with the Swedish Transport Administration and the City of Gothenburg it will propose building a 300- to 500-meter road section equipped with inductive wireless charge technology and developing vehicles that will automatically charge their batteries when passing the section. The potential benefit is quieter and more climate-smart public transport.

“Vehicles capable of being charged directly from the road during operation could become the next pioneering step in the development towards reduced environmental impact,” says Niklas Gustavsson, Volvo Group Executive Vice President, Corporate Sustainability & Public Affairs.

Three Volvo plug-in-hybrid buses are already in operation in Gothenburg. The buses charge their batteries at the end of the line. The next stage of development would be charging the batteries while in operation, thus increasing the distance the buses can run on pure electricity.

Electric roads are another important part of the puzzle in our aim of achieving transport solutions that will minimize the impact on the environment,” Gustavsson says.

Meanwhile, Ziff Davis Media’s Extreme Tech blog reports ( that an Idaho couple, Julie and Scott Brusaw, have raised more than $1.4 million through crowdfunding for their company, Solar Roadways ( Their plan is to replace asphalt and concrete surfaces with solar panels that can be driven on. They are close to finishing a prototype parking lot.

Parking lot east

“How about this for a long term advantage,” asks Scott Brusaw rhetorically: “an electric road allows all-electric vehicles to recharge anywhere: rest stops, parking lots, etc.

“They would then have the same range as a gasoline-powered vehicle. Internal combustion engines would become obsolete. Our dependency on oil would come to an abrupt end.”

Do you see potential for both approaches to electrified roadways, or will another solution surface?

Extreme Tech blog, solar panels, City of Gothenburg, Volvo, Ziff Davis Media, Solar Roadways, Swedish Transport Administration

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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