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Could We Soon See Scalextric Style Roads?

If you’re old enough to remember Scalextric, you may be excited to hear about a brand-new scheme soon being planned for the UK, with initial trials starting in the West Midlands. The scheme involves using ‘Scalextric-style’ engineering in our roads within the next 2 years.

Designed specifically to charge electric vehicles (EVs) whilst being driven, researchers are looking into the pros and cons of using a system like the wireless mobile phone charger.

It will involve embedding small wireless charging technology underneath the surface of the road and adding a digital receiver to the bottom of an electric vehicle to receive a battery charge whilst in motion.

Larger vehicles require more power than an average car, so initial trials will be run in Coventry by Western Power Distribution in association with motor trade manufacturers Toyota; to help determine if the ‘Scalextic-style’ system will be strong enough to charge all vehicles, including buses and HGVs.

If this new project is successful, it could make a huge difference to motorists that don’t have access to off-street charging facilities to power an electric vehicle, a topic raised many times before by critics of EVs.

Some critics claim that this scheme will be inefficient and expensive, as it would fail to charge an electric vehicle at the same rate and cost as an ordinary plug-in charger.

The electricity operator Western Power Distribution has teamed up with Ofgem; the energy regulator, to invest £417,000 into this innovation.

A spokesperson for Western Power Distribution said that its trial (could), “help encourage the mass adoption of electric vehicles by overcoming significant barriers around charging and range anxiety”.

Ricky Duke, an innovation and low carbon network engineer at Western Power, said: “The ability to charge your vehicle while on the move would be a massive game-changer for the nation and the launch of our study marks an important milestone in our journey towards identifying new and exciting ways to support the mass adoption of electric vehicles.”

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Registrations of diesel cars in 2020, more than halved compared to the previous period, with petrol cars suffering a similar fate, with just over 845K vehicles being sold between January and November 2020, compared to 1.4 million during the whole of 2019.

Some good news for the motor trade industry is the number of hybrid and EVs driving off motor trade dealer forecourts continue to increase, figures show that during 2020, more than double the number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold compared to 2019.

Vehicle Sales Comparison – Jan – Nov 2020 Vs 2019

  • Diesel:  -57.8%
  • Petrol:  -43.6%
  • BEV:       +128.0%

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) are concerned manufacturers could flood the market with petrol and diesel vehicles in 2029. Suggested measures to encourage motorists to ‘go electric’ before the 2030 petrol and diesel ban include a 50% tax on the most polluting vehicles.

Climate change, congestion charges, fuel costs, cheaper road tax and motor insurance policies are all incentives that have encouraged many motorists to already make the ‘electric’ switch before the petrol and diesel ban arrives.