toll road charging electric vehicles

Upcoming Road in Florida Will Charge Your EV While You Drive

Worries about charging EVs on longer journeys are one of the reasons many drivers give for not switching to electric power. It still takes longer to charge an EV than refueling an ICE car, and there isn’t always a charging point free (or working) when you need one. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could charge while you drove?

EV drivers in Central Florida just took a step closer to that sci-fi dream becoming a reality because the state has just approved a new toll road with an electrified section capable of charging electric cars. To be called State Road 516, the east-west link connects Highway 27 in Lake County and State Road 429 in Orange County.

The new road is a joint project between the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) and ASPIRE, whose full name is long and not that important – the main thing you need to know is they’re bringing the ENRX inductive charging tech. The system works much like the one used in your electric toothbrush or the wireless phone charger in your car and sends energy from pre-assembled ground winding coils in the road’s surface to a receiver pad under the vehicle.

The Need for Electrified Roads

While the environmental benefits of owning an electric vehicle (EV) are many, charging your EV during long trips could complicate traveling. Florida is hoping electrified roads could help fix America’s EV static charging.

Electric road projects are appearing across the US and the world as a potential solution to supplement static charging, allowing EV drivers to wirelessly charge their cars while they drive using inductive charging technology. This technology powers an electric vehicle from underneath the roadway while the vehicle is still on the move.

State Road 516: The Electrified Toll Road

In Florida, the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) recently approved the construction of a new toll road – State Road 516 – containing an electrified section capable of charging electric cars, as reported by NBC affiliate WESH 12 in Lake County.

State Road 516 will connect Highway 27 in Lake County and State Road 429 in Orange County, two of the fastest-growing regions in Florida. Brian Hutchings, CFX’s Manager of Community Engagement, believes that State Road 516 will be one of the most sustainable green projects CFX has ever built. The first construction phase will cost $218 million, with the total estimated construction cost reaching $534 million.

The road will utilize the ENRX technology, which has already participated in European trials, delivering 180 kW of power to the EVs moving on the road. The company states that the equipment can charge electric cars, vans, trucks, and buses without negatively affecting non-electrified vehicles.

Positive Economic Impact and Environmental Considerations

Officials hope that State Road 516 will have a positive economic impact by connecting two of the fastest-growing regions in Florida. Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks expressed his optimism: “Quite frankly, it’ll be a good economic driver as well. There’s an interchange planned to promote the right kind of jobs and create a job center for us in Lake County.”

However, it is important to note that only one mile (1.6 km) of the planned 5-mile (8 km) expressway will be electrified initially, and it will only be able to charge a small fleet of test vehicles. Nevertheless, CFX aims to offer charging services to all EV drivers eventually. It is worth mentioning that State Road 516 will not be America’s first inductive charging road, as a quarter-mile (400 m) stretch in Detroit opened last month.

Despite the $524 million toll road cutting through green land, provisions have been made to accommodate nature with a wildlife underpass and pathways for runners and walkers. The road is expected to have a significant economic benefit from linking two rapidly growing regions in Florida.

 Looking Ahead

The approval of State Road 516 and its electrified section represents a significant step towards addressing the concerns of EV drivers regarding long-distance charging. As electrified roads become a reality, the dream of charging your EV while you drive is inching closer to fruition.

While State Road 516 is just the beginning, it showcases Florida’s commitment to embracing sustainable transportation solutions. With the potential to revolutionize EV charging infrastructure, electrified roads can make electric driving more accessible and convenient for all. As technology continues to evolve, it is exciting to envision a future where EVs can seamlessly recharge while on the move, reducing range anxiety and promoting widespread adoption of electric vehicles.