Stellantis is the latest automaker to explore the potential of Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer (DWPT) — the technology that allows electric vehicles to recharge as they travel through specially equipped, dedicated road lanes.
What is Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer?
DWPT is basically a system of files placed under asphalt. They emit an electromagnetic field, which is picked up by vehicles traveling over it and converted into electricity by a special receiver.
In this way, the road infrastructure can power the electric motor, keeping the battery charged and extending the vehicle’s range.
Stellantis Pilot Project
Stellantis built a custom circuit test track called Arena del Futuro (Italian for “Arena of the Future”), where it tested the equipped Fiat 500 EV.
You can check out how the circuit works in the video below:
According to the automaker, testing has shown that an electric vehicle like the Fiat 500 can travel at average highway speeds without consuming battery power. It also showed that the efficiency of energy flow from asphalt to the vehicle is comparable to that of typical fast charging stations.
Stellantis attributes success to the fact that Arena del Futuro is powered by direct current (DC), which offers three important advantages:
- Reduces power loss during power distribution.
- It eliminates the need to convert DC to AC.
- Thin aluminum cables are allowed for current distribution, which are easy to obtain and recycled, and have half the cost of copper.
The automaker believes that DWPT technology “will simplify the customer’s approach to electric mobility and ultimately respond in a tangible way to the demands of decarbonization and environmental sustainability in the mobility sector.”
This is absolutely true. The longer time required to charge an electric vehicle compared to an ICE and the limiting range factor remain significant hurdles, hampering the transition to electric mobility. Charging while driving would eliminate these concerns.
However, implementing DWPT technology will not be easy. We’re looking at massive infrastructure changes and very massive funding to make that happen – at best – within a decade.
On the bright side, innovative technologies such as 5G applications, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence can facilitate this transition. We can still hope that as adoption of electric vehicles matures, long wait times at charging stations will become a thing of the past.