Israeli wireless “smart road” tech startup ElectReon is set to make its entry into the US market with the first deployment of its wireless charging infrastructure to power electric vehicles in Michigan.
The company said Wednesday that it won a bid to build an Electric Road System (ERS) on a public road in Detroit, the country’s long-standing automotive capital — dubbed the Motor City — as part of a program called the Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot announced by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer last September. The program aims to test electrified roads that will hopefully eventually lead to further adoption of electric vehicles and advance environmental sustainability, according to her office.
“As we aim to lead the future of mobility and electrification by boosting electric vehicle production and lowering consumer costs, a wireless in-road charging system is the next piece to the puzzle for sustainability,” said the governor in a statement on Wednesday.
The pilot scheme will run in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, which will provide $1.9 million toward the project, the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. It will be overseen by the Michigan Central Station mobility innovation district, in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood. The project is also supported by Ford Motor Company, Next Energy, a Detroit-based organization focused on mobility technologies, DTE Energy, a diversified energy company also based in the city, and Jacobs Engineering Group, a Dallas-based services company.
Founded in 2013, ElectReon has been developing a system to charge electric vehicles (EVs) while in full motion using copper coils 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, doing away with concerns about limited driving range and short battery lifespans.
The Israeli company recently opened offices in Los Angeles and recruited the former speaker of the New York City Council, Corey Johnson, as a strategic consultant for the New York area.
As part of the project in Detroit, Electreon will lead the design, evaluation, testing and implementation of the electrified road with an aim to be operational by 2023. The project is currently slated for a stretch of road up to one-mile long in Detroit and will include both dynamic and stationary wireless charging.
“We are excited to enter the US market and collaborate with industry leaders to further enhance the country’s mobility ecosystem,” said Stefan Tongur, vice president of business development for ElectReon in the US. Tongur said the company looked forward to working with departments of transportation, state and municipal agencies, and automotive and mobility industry innovators in Michigan, California and New York, “on charging infrastructure that’s vehicle agnostic and can be included in any electric vehicle.”
“Our technology has the potential to support electric fleets of all types from public transit buses to delivery vans and long-haul trucks for logistics,” he added.
ElectReon CEP Oren Ezer said it was “a privilege to be working with the State of Michigan to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles in the Motor City.”
Ezer said the agreement was “a monumental step” towards expanding the company’s US presence and team with “the birthplace of the modern automobile industry” as a first step.
“We plan to build on ElectReon’s proven track record of success globally, and demonstrate its ability to help the US realize its electrification and emissions reduction goals,” said Ezer.
Tim Slusser, the chief of mobility innovation for the City of Detroit said he hoped this project would attract additional mobility tech companies to Detroit. “The city is committed to working with companies like ElectReon to help keep Detroit at the forefront of electric vehicle technology and mobility innovation,” he said.
Wireless charging in Europe and Israel
Based in the northern Israeli community of Beit Yannai, ElectReon already has a number of running partnerships in Europe to pilot its smart road tech in Germany, France and Belgium.
In Sweden, ElectReon has installed a 1.65-kilometer (1-mile) electric stretch used by a bus and a truck on the 4.1 kilometer (2.5 miles) route between the airport and town center of Visby on Gotland Island.
ElectReon also has a running partnership with the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, which expanded recently to to include large-scale commercial deployment of its wireless charging infrastructure to power electric buses in Tel Aviv together with the Dan Bus Company.
Last summer, ElectReon welcomed former Israeli president Reuven Rivlin as company president to “enhance the company’s collaboration with governments and global companies, as well as to share our activities with decision-makers around the world,” ElectReon said at the time.
The company was one of four Israeli firms to have been named to TIME Magazine’s annual list of “100 Best Inventions.”