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Detroit Is About to Test the Bejeezus Out of Wireless EV Charging

The dream of charging your car as you drive faces the reality of a Michigan winter.

A cord as a road.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images, Tesla

One block of Detroit’s hip Corktown neighborhood is now the home to the nation's first inductive charging roadway, allowing specially-equipped vehicles to charge while on the move.

The electric road system is being deployed two years after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the pilot program. A joint project between the state’s Department of Transportation, Detroit, and the company that developed and installed the technology, Electreon, the quarter-mile stretch of road is packed with copper coils that allow EVs equipped with Electreon’s magnetic receivers to wirelessly charge while driving, idling, or parked. Just as importantly, it’s safe for pedestrians, animals, and other vehicles.

The stretch of 14th Street the city picked for the test was also no accident; it’s directly in front of Michigan Central, Detroit's innovation and technology hub that includes everything from autonomous vehicle developers to drone deployments. The symbolism is obvious.

Yet Electreon — a company that has partnered with other cities in Europe and its home country of Israel — might be interested in the area for more practical reasons. It’s just really hard to maintain roads in Michigan.

Concrete and pavement is pummeled year-round with excessive moisture that seeps into cracks, contracting and expanding to break apart roads from the inside. And that’s before you throw in metro traffic, tractor trailers, and the thousands of pounds of salt scattered on the road that keeps ice at bay and accelerates rust.

If that sounds like an awful place to test copper-embedded roadways and external magnetic receivers, maybe that’s the point. If wireless charging can make it in Detroit, it can make it anywhere.

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Damon Lavrinc

Damon Lavrinc is a freelance writer and industrial design student focused on the future of transportation. A former driving instructor and communications professional, Damon is the co-founder of the Autonocast and led transportation technology coverage at WIRED, Jalopnik, and other outlets. Read More

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Sparks

Coal’s Slowdown Is Slowing Down

Rising electricity demand puts reliability back on the table.

Pollution.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United States has been able to drive its greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest level since the early 1990s largely by reducing the amount of energy on the grid generated by coal to a vast extent. In 2005, by far the predominant source of U.S. electricity, making up some 2.2 million gigawatt-hours of the country’s 4.3 million GWh total energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2022, by contrast, coal generation was down to 900,000 GWh out of 4.5 million GWh generated. As a result, “U.S. emissions are 15.8% lower than 2005 levels, while power emissions are 40% lower than 2005 levels,” according to BloombergNEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

But the steady retirement of coal plants may be slowing down. Only 2.3 GW of coal generating capacity are set to be shut down so far in 2024, according to the Energy Information Administration. While in 2025, that number is expect to jump up to 10.9 GW, the combined 13.2 GW of retired capacity pales in comparison of the more than 22 GW retired in the past two years, according to EIA figures. Over the past decade, coal retirements have averaged about 10 GW a year, with actual retirements often outpacing forecasts.

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Sparks

Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

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This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

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