Sweden to Build First Electrified Road for En-route EV Charging

electric road
Experts say dynamic charging allows vehicles to travel longer distances with smaller batteries, and to avoid waiting at charging stations. JLStock/Shutterstock

In 2023, the European Union passed a law that requires all new cars sold after 2035 to be zero emission vehicles. That might seem like an unrealistic goal where you live, whether that's in an EU member state or not, but Sweden has already started working on the problem of how to recharge carswhen gas stations become a thing of the past.

It seems like a sci-fi dream, but Sweden has begun planning the world's first permanently electrified highway that will charge electric vehicles (EV) as they drive. It's called dynamic charging, and it can reduce the size of electric car batteries by up to 70 percent, making EVs cheaper for everyone.


How Is Sweden Looking Forward?

The country is converting 13 miles (21 kilometers) of European route E20, an existing highway that connects the three major Swedish cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, into an "e-motorway." The plan is to electrify an additional 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers) of roads by 2035.

Sweden isn't new to the electrified road game and is working on several options for electric car charging systems. In 2018, the country debuted the first-ever temporary electrified road: a 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) stretch near the Stockholm Arlanda airport using a conductive charging system in which cars of any size could charge through a stick on the underside of the vehicle that touches and conducts through an electrified rail.


Another charging method under development is a catenary system, which can only be used with larger vehicles like buses and heavy-duty trucks. The vehicle is fitted with an electric pantograph device — an arm that connects to a power source above the vehicle, charging it as it runs along the electrical line.

A third option for drivers in Sweden might be an inductive charging system, wherein electrical coils buried under the road send electricity to a receiver pad on the battery in the EV, which charges the battery.

Sweden hasn't yet finalized the method by which it will electrify all of its roads, but whatever system or combination of systems, it will be safe. Although electrifying an entire road seems dangerous, even the conductive charging system with the electrified rail will allow people and animals to cross without harm because the conductor rail will be buried so deeply.


How Expensive Will It Be?

The price of the electrified highways will depend largely on what type of system Sweden choses. As reported to Interesting Engineering, eRoadArlanda, the company that made the short, temporary electrified road in 2018, estimated that electrifying 12,427 miles (20,000 kilometers) of Sweden's highways with the conductive charging system would cost the U.S. dollar equivalent of around $9.5 billion.

The new, electrified European route E20 is scheduled to open to motorway traffic in 2025, and the success of the project will help to guide the future of electric vehicles worldwide.