Can EVs Charge on the Road While Driving?

Rivian R1S driving in a canyon

Since the introduction of electric vehicles, one of the biggest concerns has been how long it takes to charge the battery. Unlike a gasoline vehicle that can refuel in less than five minutes, it would take at least 20 minutes to charge an EV up to 80 percent if you’re using a supercharger. If you’re using a type 1 home charger, it could take hours, or even days, to recharge your battery.

However, EV charging technology is progressing, and some companies and organizations are exploring the possibilities of charging your EV while you’re driving. So what technologies are these?

Technologies That Can Charge EVs While Driving

One way we can reduce EV charging times is to let it charge while driving. But how can we do that? After all, we can’t all be driving around with super long extension cords plugged into our cars; that would be a disaster!

EV Overhead Wire Charging

Overhead wire charging is not a new invention—it has been used on electric trains and trolley buses for over a century. Since most countries and states are transitioning to electric vehicles over the next decade, overhead wire charging could be installed along highways to recharge electric trucks and buses.

In Germany, overhead electric lines are used on public highways to charge electric trucks while they’re driving. Siemens developed a similar overhead charging infrastructure known as eHighway in Sweden.

However, overhead electric lines are not practical for smaller EVs like sedans and SUVs. It’s also inconvenient for electric trucks and buses that traverse remote roads that are not part of the network. Then again, it could save you time since you don’t need to park your electric truck to recharge it—as long as you’re driving along a predictable route.

Wireless EV Charging Technology

Do you know how you can charge your smartphone wirelessly? The same technology is also possible on electric vehicles. This means you could charge your electric vehicle wirelessly while driving on the road.

But despite the benefits, EV wireless charging has not picked up yet. For it to work, copper coils need to be installed under the asphalt, and the electric vehicles must be fitted with receiver units to draw power while you’re driving on the road. This could be expensive and complicated to install.

At the moment, a few companies and organizations like WiTricity, ElectReon, Wave, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working on wireless charging technology that could change how we charge electric vehicles. Even Tesla is working on installing wireless charging technology on its cars.

Solar Roof Electric Vehicles

A few startups have engineered electric vehicles that are powered by solar roofs. For instance, the Aptera EV comes with a solar roof that adds up to 40 miles of electric range on a sunny day. This means you could recharge your electric vehicle while you’re driving using solar panels.

The Fisker Ocean Extreme is another electric vehicle designed with a solar roof. It’s currently in production and sold at $68,999. However, relying entirely on the solar top to recharge the battery while driving is not practical since it can only add up to 1,500 miles of range in a year under ideal conditions.

Other car manufacturers such as Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz are also developing EVs that can recharge through solar roofs. Even so, we still have a long way to go before electric vehicles can recharge independently using solar roofs.

Regenerative Braking in EVs

Most electric vehicles nowadays are designed with regenerative braking. To put it into perspective, whenever you hit the brakes, your EV control unit disperses the generated energy to recharge the battery. Although this feature isn’t sufficient enough to recharge your EV to full capacity, it can improve your range by 10 to 20%.

If you’re planning to go on a long-distance drive on your EV, you should ensure that regenerative braking is on to help maximize your range. You should also check out our other tips to maximize your EV’s range, allowing you to reach your destination faster.

When Can We Expect EVs to Charge on the Road?

Technically, electric vehicles are already recharging while driving using regenerative braking. But if we’re talking about charging the battery to full capacity while on the road, overhead wire charging and wireless charging are the most promising technologies.

As the world transitions to electric vehicles over the next decade, we could have infrastructure enabling electric vehicles to recharge on the road using overhead electric lines or wireless charging systems. Electric vehicles with solar roofs that recharge the batteries while you’re on the move could also be a game-changer over the next few years.

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