Tel Aviv Tests Out Israel's First Electric Road

Startup ElectRoad says its technology charges vehicles via cordless power transfers as they drive; trial will see how technology lasts over time.

Laying the technology on Shoshana Persitz Street, Tel Aviv, ahead of the ElectRoad trial.
Guy Sarussi and Oren Ezer

Tel Aviv is testing out the country’s first electric road, which could be used to charge electric cars as they drive.

The strip of road in northern Tel Aviv is a trial being conducted by startup ElectRoad. The company has developed a technology designed to power and charge vehicles by means of cordless power transfers as they drive.

The startup, in partnership with the municipality, is embedding a strip of road on Shoshana Persitz Street with ElectRoad’s “smart road” technology. The goal of the trial is to test how the company’s technology stands up to vehicle traffic and weather over time.

Oren Ezer, the entrepreneur behind ElectRoad, said the process of turning a road into a “smart road” is relatively simple, despite the complicated-sounding nature of the technology. Grooves are carved into the asphalt and a chain of copper loops inserted. The chain is connected to a power converter at the side of the road.

Electric cars fitted with the company’s technology have contacts fitted onto their undercarriage that receive electricity when driving over the smart road. The smart road is designed to give the vehicles enough energy to power them, as well as to charge their batteries.

All other electric road technologies are only capable of charging batteries, and cannot actually power a vehicle in real time, said Ezer. Thus, the company’s technology has the potential to enable electric cars to have smaller batteries, making them less expensive and lighter, said Ezer.

The company’s technology shouldn’t affect passing vehicles that are not fitted with its contacts, he added.

One of the biggest obstacles currently facing electric vehicles is the need to charge them, and the limited capacity and high cost of their batteries. For instance, electric buses have batteries weighing 5-6 tons and cost some $250,000 apiece – half the cost of the electric bus itself.

In August, England launched an 18-month pilot testing electric roads, although the pilot isn’t actually being conducted on public roads.

Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Meital Lehavi expressed hopes for the project, stating that if the trial succeeds, the city hopes to conduct a broader pilot with electric buses on the roads surrounding Tel Aviv University.