Electric roads get real in Tel Aviv


This is what an electric road looks like. It means fewer charges for your EV.


Tel Aviv is about to ride down Electric Avenue. The city which has ironically doubled its taxes to local businesses during a Covid-19 shutdown, aims to take some progressive measures to make its city smart at least in the transportation sense. 


Skytrans didn’t quite take off. But an electric road?

Also years ago there were talks about an electric hover-rail Skytrans which didn’t come to pass and Electroad in 2016. But that idea didn’t come to pass either. Its website is down. And there is the billion dollar failure of Better Place. We test drove one of their electric cars years ago. While the city chugs along building its light rail train by laying down tracks it announces its plan to pilot an e-road or electric road system to power vehicles travelling on it.

electric road, ER, tel aviv

Planting the electric road infrastructure to conduct power wirelessly.

Like streetcars in Toronto or San Francisco, common implementations are overhead power lines above the road. But ground-level power supply through conductive rails or inductive coils embedded in the road could be more forward thinking as we pave the way to zero emissions in cities everywhere. 

The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, in partnership with the company ElectReon and Dan Bus Company, plans to install wireless electric roads for charging public transportation in the city.

ElectReon develops wireless electrification systems to charge electric vehicles in full motion on smart roads. Founded in 2013 the EV company aims to reduce the need for charging stations (see some abandoned ones in the the video below), and to reduce the need for large car batteries.

The system uses copper coils developed in-house that are placed under the middle lane of the road, which are then covered in asphalt, and powered by an underground system. Charging is performed via a receiver, or multiple receivers depending on the size of the vehicle, which are installed under the car.

The pilot, the first of its kind in Israel, will be carried out between Tel Aviv University Railway Station and a station at the suburb of Ramat Aviv: all in all it will be a 1.5 mile route including half a mile of electric road.

electric road, ER, tel aviv

Paved over electric road

The pilot project if it proves to work will make it easier for specially-equipped electric buses to be charged directly from under the road. If the tests work well, the Dan Bus Company’s electric bus will start regular journeys on the route going to Tel Aviv University.

Tel Aviv wants to support all sorts of forward-thinking ideas such as culture, and electric vehicles to reduce pollution. Electric roads might be the solution along with EV charging stations in public spaces; and adopting innovative initiatives and technologies in various fields, including transportation.

The commercial partners is the Israeli company ElectReon, which develops and installs electric road systems for charging electric vehicles while traveling. The company has also started projects in Germany. 

If it works, Tel Aviv and its brother city Jaffa will be the first city worldwide to roll out the technology for charging buses on a wide scale. Private cars and delivery trucks which run in the system could be in the mix as well. 

Not that long ago Better Place had a huge plan to electrify the country using quick swap battery stations and they blew about a billion USD making a plan that failed. The plan included home and business charge stations and my kids investigate one at their dentist office in the Green Village just outside Tel Aviv.

The lights are still on but the dusty contraption doesn’t look like it’s given a charge in months, or years. 


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