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Israeli startup on track for ‘recharging roads’ project at Italy’s Bergamo Airport

Electreon demonstrates a prototype stretch of road to Italian ministers, company executives; luxury car firm Maserati expresses interest in installing tech too

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

A car drives around the Arena of the Future, a demonstration electric charging road created in Brescia, northern Italy, by Israeli startup  Electreon. (Electreon)
A car drives around the Arena of the Future, a demonstration electric charging road created in Brescia, northern Italy, by Israeli startup Electreon. (Electreon)

Israeli company Electreon, whose technology is integrated into roads that recharge the batteries of electric vehicles as they travel on them, is on track to design a lane for shuttles and service vehicles at Bergamo Airport northwest of Milan, Italy, the company said in a statement.

The project was clinched Friday at an event that officially launched a one-kilometer (0.62 miles) recharging circuit that Electreon has been testing in Brescia, northern Italy, since November 2020.

The launch was attended by Italian ministers along with senior executives from vehicle, infrastructure, and tech companies.

Bergamo Airport staff members are to test their vehicles out on the prototype road, called Arena of the Future, and if all goes to plan, the airport will move toward a commercial agreement with Electreon to create an electric lane on the airport’s tarmac.

According to an Electreon press release, the luxury car company Maserati also said it wanted to try its e-vehicles out at the Arena, with a view to acquiring the technology at its plants.

The prototype road was built following the October 2020 signing of a memorandum of understanding between Electreon and the Italian toll road infrastructure company Societa’ di Progetto Brebemi SpA. The goal of the MOU is to integrate Electreon’s wireless electric road system into infrastructure projects in Italy.

Cutting the ribbon to officially open the Arena of the Future, a demonstration electric charging road created in Brescia, northern Italy, by Israeli start-up Electreon. (Electreon)

At Friday’s event, Francesco Bettoni, head of the holding company that administers the A35 toll road, known as BreBeMi, set out the company’s vision for integrating Electreon’s technology into a stretch of road from Bergamo to Turin.

Solar fields are to be built along the road to power the system renewably.

“Europe has clearly stated its goals for the transition to sustainable transportation. We are ready for the commercial phase of the Arena of the Future technology,” Bettoni said.

He added, “I’m pleased to say that there’s great interest in the technology and we’re getting inquiries from many local authorities who are interested in integrating the technology into intercity roads.”

Aimed at reducing air pollution, the electric road does away with the need for recharging stations. According to Electreon’s website, a system of copper coils is laid beneath the asphalt to transfer energy from the electricity grid to the road and to manage communication with approaching vehicles. Receivers are installed on the floor of the vehicles to transmit the energy directly to the engine and the battery while the vehicles are on the go. Communication with all management units and all registered vehicles is via cloud technology.

The system allows for smaller batteries on electric buses, releasing more room for passengers, utilizes existing roads, and saves time because vehicles do not have to stop to charge or refuel.

An electric bus and an electric Fiat 500 try out the circuit at Arena of the Future, a demonstration electric charging road created in Brescia, northern Italy, by Israeli start-up Electreon. (Electreon)

During Friday’s event, an electric Fiat 500 car driving at 84 kilometers (52 miles) per hour around the track started with a battery that was charged 22 percent and finished with a charge of 48%.

An IVECO bus driving at up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) per hour also finished with an increased charge.

Electreon has numerous projects across Europe and in the US.

In Israel, it is partnering with the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and the Dan Bus Company in a large-scale commercial deployment of its wireless charging infrastructure to power electric buses.

Last year, Electreon was one of four Israeli firms named to TIME magazine’s annual list of “100 Best Inventions.”

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