Power Lines In Roads Constantly Charge Electric Vehicles

One solution often seen with electric buses, and sometimes with electric trucks, is to power them via attachment to overhead power lines. This is both unsightly and can cause delays in scheduling should the vehicle’s power connector fall off the line. One solution to these issues is to go under the road as seen in in a large Swedish research project automaker Volvo is participating in.

The project, said Volvo, entails two power lines built into the surface of a road along the entire length of the road. A current collector in contact with the power lines and is located on the bottom of the electric vehicle, providing constant energy to move the truck or bus forward much like overhead power lines would. Lines would be built in sections, and only one section would be live as the vehicle passes overhead. It is envisioned as an ideal solution for long distance vehicles.

image via Volvo

image via Volvo

Besides the previously mentioned advantages, another big one would be no need for large batteries. By removing these batteries from the vehicle’s footprint, more room could be made available for more commercial loads or passengers.

As exciting as this project sounds, it is still in the early stages of development. Working with Alstom, Volvo just last year built a 400-meter long track at its testing facility in Hällered outside Gothenburg. The company has been testing the system since last autumn.

“We are currently testing how to connect the electricity from the road to the truck,” said Richard Sebestyen, project manager at Volvo Group Trucks Technology, in a statement. “The electricity flows into a water-cooled heating element, with similar power requirement as an electricity-driven truck.”

Next steps include the continued technical development of the current collector, electric motor and the control systems required. It also involves road construction, road maintenance, electricity supply along the roads and various payment models, etc. To reach these milestones, Volvo is working with the Swedish Energy Agency, as well as the Swedish Transport Administration, Vattenfall, several universities, vehicle manufacturers and suppliers.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.


  • Reply June 27, 2013

    Kenneth Barnhart

    This would remove the long-trip mileage limit obstacle of currently available electric vehicles. With our aging highway system this feature might be added to upgraded highways and solve both employment and transportation fuel issues. Electric trains also could be beneficial for long trips.

  • Reply August 25, 2013


    So what happens when it wants to overtake another vehicle.
    The power will cut off and the vehicle will be left standing on an area

    of the road that has no power lines underneath.
    Also i can see kids electrocuting themselves by touching the power lines

    on the road.

  • Reply August 25, 2013

    Steve Goodman

    The internal combustion engine provides instant power as and when you need it and uses no power at all when switched off.
    The National Grid would have to be working above capacity at all times to power these tracks even if no electric vehicles were using them just in case something wanted to draw power.
    Yet another pointless excersise that will waste more power at a time when we are supposed to be saving it.
    The green lobby have a lot to answer for with their head in the sand attitude that is wasting precious resources.

  • Reply February 20, 2014

    manoj cc

    Removal of large batteries has given more space so more goods can be transported, that is a big advantage.


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