Talking Michigan Transportation

Michigan’s first-in-the-nation EV charging roadway

December 01, 2023 Michigan Department of Transportation Season 5 Episode 165
Talking Michigan Transportation
Michigan’s first-in-the-nation EV charging roadway
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation with Stefan Tongur, vice president of business development in the United States for Israel-based Electreon, a developer and provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions. He first discussed the technology on the podcast shortly after the contract was announced in 2022.

Tongur talks about the significance of a media event Wednesday, Nov. 29, showcasing the first inductive charging technology installed on a public street in the United States.

In February 2022, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced the award of a contract to Electreon for a pilot project with implementation of the technology. MDOT has worked closely in partnership with Electreon, Michigan Central, and the City of Detroit. This week’s demonstration was on a segment of 14th Street, adjacent to the Michigan Central campus in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

The next phase of the project will add the technology to a segment of nearby US-12 (Michigan Avenue).

Tongur explains the company’s mission: 

  • To accelerate carbon neutrality and simultaneously meet the needs of public and commercial fleet operators and consumers, we have created a cost-effective, end-to-end wireless charging infrastructure and services platform.

Electreon has projects in several countries, including most cited as having the highest share of EV sales.

Next week: Joann Muller, a Detroit-based automotive industry reporter for Axios, will be a guest on the podcast to talk about her extensive reporting on the development of EVs.

Jeff Cranson:

Hi, welcome to the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast. I'm Jeff Cranson. This week, MDOT and a number of partners celebrated another milestone in the implementation of inductive charging, meaning technology that will actually charge electric vehicles on the go dynamically it's another way to put it. First, before I get into a conversation with Stefan Tongur, who is the vice president of development in the United States for Electreon, the Israel-based firm that has developed this technology, I want everyone to hear a little bit of what people had to say at the media event. First Stefan spoke, and then you'll hear from Detroit deputy mayor Todd Bettison, and then Michigan Central's CEO Joshua Seyreffman, and then MDOT director Brad Wieferich. After that I'll be back for a conversation with Stefan.

Stefan Tongur:

This project is because we've had a lot of partners and friends that have joined Electrion in the arena of innovation. The first mile in the world of Concrete Road was paved here, close to here, in Woodward Avenue 1909. And here we are, together to actually celebrate the nation's first electric roadway here in Detroit. We can today begin to pave the path for sustainable electrical mobility future of tomorrow.

Brad Wieferich, P.E.:

Wireless charging roadway aims to further functions as a testing site, collaboration with local and national businesses, entrepreneurs, to explore how, in the real world environment, this will be our own proving ground in the city of Detroit.

Joshua Seyreffman:

It's a quarter mile of road. It may seem small now, but it's a huge step in how to figure out. How do we bring this to scale? How do we get the information whether that's an individual with their 150 going over it or if it's a fleet sort of testing? What did I get in the charging from that? That allows me to understand how to plant and ultimately all of it adds up to a better world for all of us, a more sustainable world. We want to stay ahead of the curve.

Brad Wieferich, P.E.:

We want to lead the curve. We want folks in the nation to be seeing what we're doing here and providing the environment where this sort of innovation can occur. We want to make sure that we're a welcoming environment for these new technologies.

Jeff Cranson:

So, Stefan, thank you again for coming back. You're a repeat guest on the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast and I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much. So let's talk about, before we get into the details of yesterday's demonstration, give me again some history, your background, how you came to be with Electreon and why you're so passionate about this. I mean a true believer.

Stefan Tongur:

One of the reasons is because I'm a nerd on electric roads. I started my journey in Sweden in an era where this wasn't really available. At the same pace, electrification had just started and the big notion was what do we do with the heavy trucks? The batteries are not good enough, how do we electrify them? And somebody was like, okay, what if we charge them as we drive? And they didn't know what to call it. So I was like this is a new phenomenon. This is about a system perspective, not just about one technology. It's like how we integrate. So I created this term electric road system in academia and I focused on not just technology change but more in the business models, in a sense. How do business models change when you go from one way of fueling cars and having internal combustion engine to a way where we now can transform the roads that we own and make them to a charging asset? And how does the public interact with the private sector? And, seeing it more from an ecosystem perspective and a use case perspective, that that could be an enabler, that, if we find the right business model, it will be an enabler to unlock the more sustainable technologies, not from a memorial perspective, but from a cost perspective, from a perspective where we make people's life better, and that's why I joined Electron, because they shared the same vision on creating electric roads and not only electric roads, but also wireless charging, while stopping still. And so I've been fortunate, working with my passion and moving from Sweden here to the US and managed the operations here in Michigan and in the US.

Jeff Cranson:

So let's talk about those operations and development, because you talked a little bit about the model. Ultimately, what's the pitch to investors and what gives them the long-term confidence, the capital folks?

Stefan Tongur:

Ultimately comes down to total cost of ownership for fleets. Initially, right now we can talk about the general public, that's down the road. But if you look at it from a total cost of ownership of owning and operating an electric fleet today, making that transition from diesel to electric is a huge step because you need to pay much more for these vehicles. That become expensive due to one main component, which is the battery. The batteries have become much better and they're much more efficient, but they are still very heavy, they're big and they cost a lot of money and there's not a lot of availability of these batteries for a larger scale.

Jeff Cranson:

Just real quickly talk about that a little bit. That expense is it largely about access to materials or is it other factors? It's availability.

Stefan Tongur:

It's really about the duty cycle. The more batteries you put, also the more weight you put on the vehicles and the less cargo you can carry with you. So it's multi. And then the bigger battery you have, the more energy and power you need. You need more energy in that battery. So let's say you have a truck with one megawatt hour, you probably need to charge it with a megawatt if you're going to fully charge it during a lunch break for one hour. So it creates a huge pressure on the grid to have these big batteries. It creates weight on your roads, Jeff. They will deteriorate. What's happening now in a lot of fleets is bus fleets. They put these additional weight. They violate the weight curve that you have. So what happens is they are seeing structural damages in some parking, parking structure and bridges and others and because of the weight of the battery. So batteries are good, they are neighbors, but they are not the solution on large scale. So that's the thing. If we can utilize the resources more efficiently, that would be better. So it's not like either we have batteries or not. I think we need batteries, but we need to be able to use them in a smarter way instead of just putting as much as possible in a vehicle, that becomes cost prohibitive. And there are different duty cycles. Some duty cycles might have smaller batteries if they have better charging operations, and that's the big issue right now, Jeff. So, I think batteries availability of those batteries is going to be key. Can we support 5 million vehicles, 10 million vehicles, 100 million vehicles with batteries on a large scale, or do we need to rethink the concept for the smaller batteries and we can charge them more frequently, so that range is not an issue and so that charging anxiety is not an issue? And that's where, from my perspective, we take it back from the first step. If the vehicles become too big, if the grid upgrades that you need to do in your facility becomes too expensive, if the operating cost of operating these vehicles becomes too challenging, because one thing that happens is, even if you design your battery to be very big, they sometimes don't even meet the duty cycle that the diesel truck have or a bus have or a car right. So they sometimes park, very often park that electric truck and then they shift to diesel one because it needs to charge. So you have operational expenses, you have capital expenses and if we can help and that's what we're doing. If we can look at duty cycles and use cases where we can support these fleets while they are standing still at loading docks, bus stops, you know, like here in Michigan Center, we also have a static station. We're only talking about the dynamic, but we also have static charging here, right? So when a shuttle comes or a last mile delivery vehicle, it will be able to charge when standing still. So if we can support them in this way and attract these use cases, there's a huge cost savings we can make for these fleet vehicles. So investors in you know that see the potential for fleets wanting to make the transition. It literally becomes one of the few solutions that actually can solve their challenges, right?

Jeff Cranson:

Yes, so ultimately, I think what you're saying is, if we can do inductive charging, any means of on the go charging, the battery doesn't need to be as big, you're not going to need to mine nearly as many materials. I mean, there's all kinds of advantages to that. I mean, is it fair to say that the reason that the batteries in our ICE vehicles are huge is because they have an alternator that's charging them as they go?

Stefan Tongur:

Exactly so no, that's exactly right. So I think with that model, Jeff, if we rethink about having as big batteries as possible and think about the right-sizing batteries, so instead of and right-sizing batteries only can happen if we charge the vehicles more smartly, instead of just at one single point of time. And that's the missing factor today, because a driver that drives and delivers packages during the day, like he won't take out the plug or a cable and then plug the vehicle, he's only 10 minutes to drop packages. If a truck comes to the bridge and goes to Canada and they slow driving, you can't have plugs and plug in the trucks while you're doing, or a bus while it's dropping off passenger. So it needs to be automatic, it needs to be seamless, and that's why inductive charging has so high promise, because it's user-friendly and it can solve the issue of the big batteries and the grid connection and actually support their operations today. So you ask me why somebody would invest in this if we're going to electric. This is one of the only solutions. There are others as well, but this is one solution that can help support the acceleration and the adoption of EVs to make it more cost-effective.

Jeff Cranson:

I mean you get a feel for motivations for different investors, who probably each have their own reasons. Is some of it just the climate and the goal to be carbon neutral? I mean, is it driven by a green mindset or is it, I mean, it's a bottom line for everybody?

Stefan Tongur:

I mean they want to return on their investment, obviously, but yeah, I mean, I know the founders of our company are very much so starting the seed for starting this is that we need to improve our planet for the animals and for the people. So that's the basis of why Electron was founded. But to do that you need to have a business right. So it needs to be sustainable financially as well. And that's why I'm so confident that the business model that we can have if it's charging as a service, if it's like equipment plus operation, the business model we can have ultimately is helping fleet operators complete their mission of transporting goods or people, but do it electric in a much more cost-effective way compared to just big batteries and plug-in charging or even diesel. So that's the big promise and that's the big in one way, you're getting a premium product but for a cheap price, and what you can do with the infrastructure eventually is also increase utilization right. So today you do one charging for buses, you do one charge platform for a truck, one for a car. Imagine now if we have a platform like an infrastructure and I call that the shared charging platform where you can use it for charging different vehicle types, right, and where you can charge it in different modes, statically or dynamically. That's a game changer and that's just not part of the equation today, because either you do fast charging along corridors and overnight charging, or you do fuel cell and it's like both options are good, but they also have limitations on how they scale, and I think electric road system can be part of the piece of the puzzle here, because it really can accelerate adaption and certainly in many use cases.

Jeff Cranson:

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--tw-border-spacing-y: 0; --tw-translate-x: 0; --tw-translate-y: 0; --tw-rotate: 0; --tw-skew-x: 0; --tw-skew-y: 0; --tw-scale-x: 1; --tw-scale-y: 1; --tw-pan-x: ; --tw-pan-y: ; --tw-pinch-zoom: ; --tw-scroll-snap-strictness: proximity; --tw-ordinal: ; --tw-slashed-zero: ; --tw-numeric-figure: ; --tw-numeric-spacing: ; --tw-numeric-fraction: ; --tw-ring-inset: ; --tw-ring-offset-width: 0px; --tw-ring-offset-color: #fff; --tw-ring-color: rgba(59,130,246,. 5); --tw-ring-offset-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-ring-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow-colored: 0 0 #0000; --tw-blur: ; --tw-brightness: ; --tw-contrast: ; --tw-grayscale: ; --tw-hue-rotate: ; --tw-invert: ; --tw-saturate: ; --tw-sepia: ; --tw-drop-shadow: ; --tw-backdrop-blur: ; --tw-backdrop-brightness: ; --tw-backdrop-contrast: ; --tw-backdrop-grayscale: ; --tw-backdrop-hue-rotate: ; --tw-backdrop-invert: ; --tw-backdrop-opacity: ; --tw-backdrop-saturate: ; --tw-backdrop-sepia: ; background-color: rgb(252, 252, 253);">earlier</span><span data-v-ddf6351a="" class="transcript-element" data-mindex="22" data-eindex="367" data-key="22367 802. 707" style="--tw-border-spacing-x: 0; --tw-border-spacing-y: 0; --tw-translate-x: 0; --tw-translate-y: 0; --tw-rotate: 0; --tw-skew-x: 0; --tw-skew-y: 0; --tw-scale-x: 1; --tw-scale-y: 1; --tw-pan-x: ; --tw-pan-y: ; --tw-pinch-zoom: ; --tw-scroll-snap-strictness: proximity; --tw-ordinal: ; --tw-slashed-zero: ; --tw-numeric-figure: ; --tw-numeric-spacing: ; --tw-numeric-fraction: ; --tw-ring-inset: ; --tw-ring-offset-width: 0px; --tw-ring-offset-color: #fff; --tw-ring-color: rgba(59,130,246,. 5); --tw-ring-offset-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-ring-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow-colored: 0 0 #0000; --tw-blur: ; --tw-brightness: ; --tw-contrast: ; --tw-grayscale: ; --tw-hue-rotate: ; --tw-invert: ; --tw-saturate: ; --tw-sepia: ; --tw-drop-shadow: ; --tw-backdrop-blur: ; --tw-backdrop-brightness: ; --tw-backdrop-contrast: ; --tw-backdrop-grayscale: ; --tw-backdrop-hue-rotate: ; --tw-backdrop-invert: ; --tw-backdrop-opacity: ; --tw-backdrop-saturate: ; --tw-backdrop-sepia: ; background-color: rgb(252, 252, 253);"> </span><span data-v-ddf6351a="" class="transcript-element" data-mindex="22" data-eindex="368" data-key="22368about803. 351" style="--tw-border-spacing-x: 0; --tw-border-spacing-y: 0; --tw-translate-x: 0; --tw-translate-y: 0; --tw-rotate: 0; --tw-skew-x: 0; --tw-skew-y: 0; --tw-scale-x: 1; --tw-scale-y: 1; --tw-pan-x: ; --tw-pan-y: ; --tw-pinch-zoom: ; --tw-scroll-snap-strictness: proximity; --tw-ordinal: ; --tw-slashed-zero: ; --tw-numeric-figure: ; --tw-numeric-spacing: ; --tw-numeric-fraction: ; --tw-ring-inset: ; --tw-ring-offset-width: 0px; --tw-ring-offset-color: #fff; --tw-ring-color: rgba(59,130,246,. 5); --tw-ring-offset-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-ring-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow-colored: 0 0 #0000; --tw-blur: ; --tw-brightness: ; --tw-contrast: ; --tw-grayscale: ; --tw-hue-rotate: ; --tw-invert: ; --tw-saturate: ; --tw-sepia: ; --tw-drop-shadow: ; --tw-backdrop-blur: ; --tw-backdrop-brightness: ; --tw-backdrop-contrast: ; --tw-backdrop-grayscale: ; --tw-backdrop-hue-rotate: ; --tw-backdrop-invert: ; --tw-backdrop-opacity: ; --tw-backdrop-saturate: ; --tw-backdrop-sepia: ; background-color: rgb(252, 252, 253);">about</span><span data-v-ddf6351a="" class="transcript-element" data-mindex="22" data-eindex="369" data-key="22369. 803. 732" style="--tw-border-spacing-x: 0; --tw-border-spacing-y: 0; --tw-translate-x: 0; --tw-translate-y: 0; --tw-rotate: 0; --tw-skew-x: 0; --tw-skew-y: 0; --tw-scale-x: 1; --tw-scale-y: 1; --tw-pan-x: ; --tw-pan-y: ; --tw-pinch-zoom: ; --tw-scroll-snap-strictness: proximity; --tw-ordinal: ; --tw-slashed-zero: ; --tw-numeric-figure: ; --tw-numeric-spacing: ; --tw-numeric-fraction: ; --tw-ring-inset: ; --tw-ring-offset-width: 0px; --tw-ring-offset-color: #fff; --tw-ring-color: rgba(59,130,246,. 5); --tw-ring-offset-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-ring-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow-colored: 0 0 #0000; --tw-blur: ; --tw-brightness: ; --tw-contrast: ; --tw-grayscale: ; --tw-hue-rotate: ; --tw-invert: ; --tw-saturate: ; --tw-sepia: ; --tw-drop-shadow: ; --tw-backdrop-blur: ; --tw-backdrop-brightness: ; --tw-backdrop-contrast: ; --tw-backdrop-grayscale: ; --tw-backdrop-hue-rotate: ; --tw-backdrop-invert: ; --tw-backdrop-opacity: ; --tw-backdrop-saturate: ; --tw-backdrop-sepia: ; background-color: rgb(252, 252, 253);">.</span><span data-v-ddf6351a="" class="transcript-element" data-mindex="22" data-eindex="370" data-key="22370 803. 732" style="--tw-border-spacing-x: 0; --tw-border-spacing-y: 0; --tw-translate-x: 0; --tw-translate-y: 0; --tw-rotate: 0; --tw-skew-x: 0; --tw-skew-y: 0; --tw-scale-x: 1; --tw-scale-y: 1; --tw-pan-x: ; --tw-pan-y: ; --tw-pinch-zoom: ; --tw-scroll-snap-strictness: proximity; --tw-ordinal: ; --tw-slashed-zero: ; --tw-numeric-figure: ; --tw-numeric-spacing: ; --tw-numeric-fraction: ; --tw-ring-inset: ; --tw-ring-offset-width: 0px; --tw-ring-offset-color: #fff; --tw-ring-color: rgba(59,130,246,. 5); --tw-ring-offset-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-ring-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow: 0 0 #0000; --tw-shadow-colored: 0 0 #0000; --tw-blur: ; --tw-brightness: ; --tw-contrast: ; --tw-grayscale: ; --tw-hue-rotate: ; --tw-invert: ; --tw-saturate: ; --tw-sepia: ; --tw-drop-shadow: ; --tw-backdrop-blur: ; --tw-backdrop-brightness: ; --tw-backdrop-contrast: ; --tw-backdrop-grayscale: ; --tw-backdrop-hue-rotate: ; --tw-backdrop-invert: ; --tw-backdrop-opacity: ; --tw-backdrop-saturate: ; --tw-backdrop-sepia: ; background-color: rgb(252, 252, 253);"</span>ou know all the reasons that the critics come up with that. Yeah, the batteries are too heavy, range anxiety. Now we're hearing about reliability. Consumer reports came out with something this week about how Internal combustion engines rate and reliability higher than EVs, but I mean that shouldn't surprise any of us. I don't think, because I'm pretty sure if you had done a survey of new a horseless carriage for people at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, they would have said that their team of horses was more reliable.

Stefan Tongur:

It's right. That's right, yeah, I agree. So, technology, I see this as technology evolution, Jeff, and not the revolution. I mean, it is a game changer in one way that this is an option, but it only comes because we have made so much progress in EVs in general. So, as we're doing previously, the progress now, let's get them reliable, let's get them charged, let's get the more cost-effective right. So it's like building the industry so that the model is actually better than the previous one, instead of replicating the previous one which has been for over a century, and just like, let's stop and chart in two minutes and three minutes, it's just not how it works with batteries. So, rethinking a little bit and, I think, bringing it back here, what we have shown is that it is possible that it works, that we can do it, that the investment could be small if we target right use cases and then scale it up. And and I think that's that's the beauty of this that we don't need to think LA, you know, New York, L. A., Detroit, tomorrow no, we can, we don't need to do, we can do this for you know, I slated use cases. Get the benefit out there for DC and get more EVs out, get, you know, this technology as it gets more reliable, as people feel. Oh, this is not as expensive as I thought, I can actually save on the fuel cost. As we get all these aspects, the demand will be, of course, I want to charge my vehicle while I drive. Well, and in the same way, like you say today, of course I want to call you know through your cell phone without the cord, right, so it's going to be so natural. We just can't see it because we started with a one mile and here we've deployed it. You know, deployed a quarter of a mile, like a point to my 14th Street. It's not the end station. This is the starting point, and the starting point builds on collaboration rather than just technology, and that's, I think, for me, technology enabler. But it won't happen without collaboration and partnership and a business model that works.

Jeff Cranson:

We will continue the conversation right after a quick break.

MDOT Message:

Did you know? Newton's first law of motion states that a body in motion will continue moving at the same speed and same direction, while the second law states that an object acted upon by the force will undergo .. Wait, I thought this was a snow plow safety message. It is, which is why this is relevant. Don't you think that's complicating things just a bit? Not at all. A snow plow weighs 17 times more than your average car. Right, and snow plows tend to travel at slower than posted speeds. So the third law states that action and reaction are equal and opposite. I think it's easier just to remind motorists to give plows the room they need to do their jobs. Follow at a safe distance and don't drive into snow clouds, things like that. Well, if you're gonna make it that simple, why don't you just say don't crowd the plow? Great idea. Stay safe this winter. Don't crowd the plow. That's it. Yeah, that's it.

Jeff Cranson:

Well, let's talk about this week's milestone, especially in the demonstration. You know, I think what really intrigued me and you know just was very cool. We all talk about partnerships. We talk about, you know, P3s and how important it is that government do what it can to support private industry and they work together. And there's obviously things that go on behind the scenes. Everybody has their own agenda, they're on objectives, they have to come together, but I think this week's demonstration really demonstrated that sincere commitment from all the parties. I mean Michigan Central, with the investments that they have right there in Corktown, obviously, electron and what you've brought to the table, MDOT, with the contract, starting with the RFP, that Electreon, you know one other agencies in the state of Michigan and, of course, the city of Detroit. It's their street and they were willing to give it a try and everybody was represented there and, you know, spoke, I think, eloquently and passionately about what this means. So tell me what it meant to you.

Stefan Tongur:

You know, I'm touched and, to be honest, I'm proud because, you know, Electron is the lead everybody looks like at the Electron because we're the prime of the kind. We won the contract but in in every aspect of the way, we're carried by so many partners that they have embraced the vision and feel part of it, and I think that's what came through yesterday that I've been a little bit afraid, Jeff. To be honest, like it starts with, we're going to be the first in the nation. You know, and it's starts, people are happy with it and they take it as the win, right, and what I felt yesterday was the contrary, like more yeah, we've just started here. This is a starting point. Now we need to accelerate, we need to expand and and the potential of this is really useless if we don't succeed in scaling, if we can't succeed in reducing emissions, if we can't succeed in getting other uses, if we can't succeed and get into vehicles on board. You know we haven't won and what we saw yesterday in the event and the excitement for folks was we know this is tough, what we went through it, and now we want to reap the benefit and we want to change the history of things and that makes me because it's not about the lecture, it's really not, and it's I don't think it's about MDOT as well per se. I think it's about creating a better future, and that future can only be created if we come together with our different perspective, and that's what makes this so great, Jeff. I think If we didn't have the permitting perspective, we didn't have like MDOT's perspective on how to manage and operate roads, if we didn't have Michigan Central's kind of innovative perspective bringing this here, if we didn't have all these, you know, I would say perspectives and grit right, it's about grit to do something that makes an impact, that makes our industry better, more competitive.

Jeff Cranson:

That's always a good word when you're talking about Detroit.

Stefan Tongur:

And I. So, from my perspective. You're asking me I'm, you know, a stranger to the city? Not anymore. I feel like you know I belong here. But coming from Sweden and now living in LA, and for me, this great that I found here with these people, I, you know, I couldn't have found this anywhere else, and the response I received these days, even with the mayor this morning, is like, yeah, let's go. That's the sentiment, and so, you know, now it's a time to reap the benefit of creating partnership, a showing, you know, now we've done it, like it's not just talking.

Jeff Cranson:

Yeah, grit has defined Detroit for more than 300 years. It's in the DNA.

Stefan Tongur:

It's coming from the heart that what, what I see, and so thankful is, what I feel, thankful, proud, but also, like you know, we're getting warmed up. You know this is the beginning. I don't feel like we have achieved it. We haven't achieved it, but we achieved an important and significant historic milestone. Now we need to be like, just like Woodward Avenue. You know, yesterday I mentioned 1909, right, the first concrete road. Yes, yes, it's a great reference. So what about when they build that mile? How would they think you do you think people are asking, oh, is this mile enough for me to take me from one point to another point? Is this mile enough, like, does this make sense? So it needs to start somewhere and, based on that, look at you know how we change the world with that mile.

Jeff Cranson:

Yeah, they probably weren't thinking at the time about how much it was going to cost to maintain those roads in perpetuity once you built them. And it's especially in Michigan where we have underfunded roads for, you know, decades. But that's another discussion. So, without getting too technical, talk a little bit about the coils, the impavement coils and how they work, and some questions have come up that I I guess I take too much for granted. I just think a company couldn't be as successful as they are with, with, you know, multiple regulatory agencies, some more stringent than others. But you guys are operating successfully in France and Italy, obviously in Israel, where the company started several projects, in Germany, Norway, China, and there's a tremendous overlap between the countries where you're operating and the highest countries in terms of EV sales. So talk about that.

Stefan Tongur:

Yeah, I can give you my personal reference from Sweden, right. So where we deployed, this wasn't something we thought about necessarily like initially. It turned out to be great as a pilot project and learning project. Our location for deployment was in the island of Gotland, which has an airport pretty close to it, but it also have a military airport close to it. So quite soon after project started, there were concern from agencies saying, hey, what about this? You know electric, magnetic fields and compatibility, like are you going to disrupt our equipment? And we're like, ". And they're like, okay, but we need to test this, you know. And so suddenly, before we kind of said the name of it, we had seven different agencies, everything from aviation to the military to like you know you can imagine. And so they started looking at you know what standards are here, and and so we work with them to provide them the data that allowed them to measure is this safe or not, does this disrupt or not? And over our years we did not get one single phone call or report that shut us down, that said you know you cannot operate because you are disturbing or damaging, otherwise we wouldn't be able to operate. So from that point of view, like Ever since I've been there, it's been like safety is number one. We needed her to those standards that are there, make it safe. We have a shield underneath the vehicle just for extra protection for passenger on board. We have a safety mechanism that the coil ingrown the impavement coil, that's what you call them that's only activated when the receiver is above it, you know, and it's only five feet, so it's covered by the vehicle and then it's charging and when it's leaving that coil it goes passive. So it's never like activated and it wouldn't be efficient to have it emitting anything. No, exactly, it's a similar question. Like people ask me can't you use your coils to warm up the snow with ice on the roof? It has an ice melt system yeah, but then it wouldn't be a really efficient system, right? So you need to have second.

Jeff Cranson:

Maybe heat your coffee, sorry, and maybe heat up your coffee.

Stefan Tongur:

Heat up your coffee, then it will be a lot of energy for that. But, seriously, you need to have that secondary coil and, given that each coil is activated only when you have a system above it, it makes it totally safe, not only for people in the car but also people outside of the car. And I've been there when we've done those testing. And it's also our concept, jeff, that we don't do Because it's a modular system. We can put several receivers on a truck, for example, or a bus. We don't need to put all the energy in one receiver. It helps also not doing it too high power and create the mission. So we as a company and as a technology solution are efficient and have been working with these agencies and got like C marking and other things from Europe. So now, as we're coming here to the US, we did some testing at Utah State University, at MCity. Now we're here, so it's progress. So now we are also in process of doing UL certification, other American things. So these are aspects that these projects help us to educate the market. You take SAE as an example, which is the automotive industry standard. There's a standard on light duty vehicles but not heavy duty vehicles. So Electreon is part of the standard. We are co-chairing a standardization committee. This, I think, was last week. There was a standard accepted.

Jeff Cranson:

I saw the announcement. Yeah, that was. I was going to ask you about that too. That's very interesting.

Stefan Tongur:

And that's based on Electreon working with a competitor, another design, working together and showing that we can be interoperable between different technologies. That's our Electreon's kind of DNA of showing that we want to standardize, we want to obey with these standards, because there's no way we can scale this over different states and over different of the whole country and world if we don't work in a collaborative manner, and then there will be different companies with different strengths, but if we can set the standard here together with OEMs and with the state, I think it's a little bit of how do you say it. There is a benefit and a strength of working to put the standard. But in order to do the standard, what helps to actually do stuff, to get data. That's the academic world. We do the research paper and you send it in and you just play with words when it comes to standard. You want to make sure hey, you want to make sure that the data comes from the real world and influence the standard and not vice-versa, and that's also helpful for these type of projects. So, long term, that's where we're going.

Jeff Cranson:

Yeah, I think the headline on the news release regarding that SAE development was that Electreon's proven wireless alignment methodology has been selected by SAE to be the global standard.

Stefan Tongur:

So that is what light duty. So now it's coming for working, getting it to heavy duty and for dynamic as well, and it's in collaboration with others. So we have all our competitors, industry, voting together on what standards. It's not just an Electreon perspective, like we're because of our collaboration also over the industry, and that's, I think, one thing that hopefully is benefiting the state of Michigan feeling like, hey, you selected a company like Electreon that actually puts pride in working together with competitors, because we understand that this is important for creating these RFPs in the end of the day, where you can pick different vendors right, and it's an open source. But you don't start there. You need to start with showing that the technology is there that works, generate the data and then move, convince the industry that this is the right way, how you can effect this for the industry and the public.

Jeff Cranson:

Yeah, and I think that this is what the public and lawmakers would say that government should do. Government should support our biggest industries and they've decided in Michigan's case, the big automakers have decided to go all in on electric vehicles and it's going to be important to have a charging network and it doesn't mean government subsidizing the charging by any means. People are going to pay, just like they pay for their gas, they're going to pay for their charging. But we have to do what we can with the public infrastructure to be supportive and this is a huge step in that direction. So I think t here's going to be a lot more to talk about as we go forward, and I just I really appreciate you taking time again because I know how busy you are, but congratulations. I think yesterday was a really important step and had a lot of coverage, a lot of eyeballs on it and it's all good yeah thank you for your leadership and MDOT's leadership and I think, the governor's leadership.

Stefan Tongur:

I mean met her and she's she seems really excited about it, picking up the electrifying the damn roads line. I think it shows the commitment to, you know, we're not done. This is the starting point and it makes me proud and more hungry of more collaboration. And you know, now I want to see this, you know, not just in the pilot. I want to see this, you know in scale. Well, yeah see, like people actually not worrying and giving you those you know headache of range and range anxiety, or batteries or cost, and say, hey, you know, cost is no longer an issue.

Jeff Cranson:

Yeah, our dependence on, you know, foreign mines and materials. I mean, we made this, these great strides in terms of energy independence, and you know we don't want to go the other way when it comes to the next big thing. So yeah, exactly.

Stefan Tongur:

Yes, so, thank you, I'm looking forward, you know, to talking more and collaborating more, and you know proud of what we've done so far. So let's, let's take this win and build upon it.

Jeff Cranson:

Sounds great, thank you. Next week, I'll be continuing the conversation about electric vehicles and trends in the marketplace. I'll be speaking with Joann Muller, who's the Detroit based automotive industry reporter for Axios, so I hope you can tune in. I'd like to thank you once more for tuning in to Talking Michigan Transportation. You can find show notes and more on Apple podcasts or Buzzsprout. I also want to acknowledge the talents of people who help make this a reality each week, starting with Randy Debler, who skillfully edits the audio, Jesse Ball, who proofs the content, Courtney Bates, who posts the podcast of various platforms, and Jacke Salinas, who transcribes the audio to make it accessible to all.

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