Two years ago we echoed each other exploits of the Israeli start-up Electreonspecializing in what it calls Wireless Electric Roads –sections of roads capable of continuously recharging electric vehicles.
If the young shoot is only one of many in the world, working on road electrification in one form or anotherle automotive giant Stellantiswhich since 2021 brings together PSA Peugeot Citroën (Citroën, DS Automobiles, Opel, Peugeot, etc.) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat Automobiles, Jeep, Lancia, etc.) has also decided to look into the matter.
With an electric Fiat 500 prototype adapted for the occasion, the manufacturer is working in its “Arena del Futuro” near Chiari, Italy, on what it calls DWPT for Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer.
Or, translated by the firm itself in his press releaseand “wireless energy transfer by induction” theoretically allowing an electric car to drive while consuming its electricity on the fly, therefore without needing to recharge its battery.
As The Drive explainsthe principle of charging by induction, close to what you can experience on your smartphones and their ad hoc chargers, is not new.
What is, however, in the solution proposed by Stellantis, is that the electricity sent to the vehicle is not sent to its battery but directly to its motor: this is pretty much what happens. on the electric cart circuit of your childhood dreams, but in 1:1 scale and with humans behind the wheel.
To infinity and beyond, and without battery
“This technology is adaptable to all vehicles equipped with a special “receiver” that transfers energy from the road infrastructure directly to the electric motor, extending range while conserving the charge of the vehicle battery”is it specified in the press release which, in addition to small cars, also speaks of buses or trucks.
In short, a certain dream of a connected future and infinite autonomy. A dream nevertheless still a little vague. Because Stellantis offers, for the moment, very few technical details on this DWPT system, which we imagine is not yet quite ready to be adapted to roads around the world.
How fast is the Fiat 500 tested by Stellantis in its arena of the future? What is the real power of the electric transfer between the coils placed under the asphalt of the road and the receivers placed in the vehicle?
The manufacturer announces that it has succeeded in achieving a transfer equivalent to that of a direct current fast charger. As The Drive nevertheless notes, this can mean any figure between 50 and 350 kilowatts.
Technically, the use of direct current for the DWPT allows Stellantis to simplify part of the necessary systems, to use thinner cables and to save weight, as well as to choose a material like aluminum rather than copper, which is more expensive and more difficult to recycle.
If only the small adapted Fiat 500 has so far been tested in the Arena del Futuro, a Maserati Grecale Folgore should soon join it to continue collecting data on this nascent system.
We are therefore still a long way from the colossal work that would be required to adapt our roads and infrastructures to such an innovation, but all leads are worth following. This could prove to be more than useful in certain cases, on certain sections of motorways or for public transport in particular.