Oslo will be the world’s first metropolitan area to install wireless, induction-based charging stations for electric taxis, in a bid to make a zero-emission cab system by as early as 2023, according to Reuters. Norway wants to go even further than that, however, and is mandating that all new cars sold in the country be all-electric by 2025.
To pull off the taxi charging system, Norway is tapping Finnish utilities firm Fortum, which is working with US company Momentum Dynamics and the municipal government of Oslo to install charging plates in the road that connect to energy receivers in the vehicles themselves. The goal is to make it as easy as possible to charge electric taxis, as doing so now is cumbersome, time-consuming, and expensive. Using induction, which is more energy efficient, the taxis can be charged as they wait in what’s known as a taxi rank, or a slow-moving queue where cabs line up to wait for passengers.
Here’s how Fortum describes the system working in its press announcement:
The project aims to install wireless charging using induction technology. Charging plates are installed in the ground where the taxi is parked and a receiver is installed in the taxi. This allows for charging up to 75 kilowatts. The project will be the first wireless fast-charging infrastructure for electric taxis anywhere in the world, and will also help the further development of wireless charging technology for all EV drivers.
Fortum Charge & Drive has long been working with the taxi industry to enable electrification of the taxi fleet. The greatest hurdle has proved to be the infrastructure: It is too time consuming for taxi drivers to find a charger, plug in and then wait for the car to charge. The wireless fast-charging project aims to solve these issues and thereby reduce climate emissions from the taxi sector – not only in Norway, but in the entire world.
“The future is electric, and it is already here, right now. Wireless charging is a potential game changer,” said Sture Portvik, Oslo’s electro mobility manager, in a statement. “From 2023 onward, all taxis in Oslo will be zero emission. Together with the taxi industry we will make sure that the shift is as user friendly and efficient as possible. Oslo will always be at the front of innovation and we are delighted to join forces with two of the industry’s most progressive players in this game-changing move to launch the world’s most ambitious plan for wireless charging of a taxi fleet.”
Norway is only able to pull this off due to a number of logistical and economic factors. For one, the country has a population of only 5.3 million people, making it easy for the government to make large-scale, holistic changes to its infrastructure that in other, larger countries would take much longer and receive considerably more pushback. Additionally, as Reuters points out, Norway is not home to any automotive company that would fight taxes and other legislation that aims to incentivize citizens to use electric vehicles. As a result, Norway has exempted electric vehicle owners from certain taxes and given away benefits like free tolls and parking to those who use zero-emission vehicles.
According to Reuters, Norway now has the highest rate of electric vehicle ownership in the world, and it outpaces Germany as Europe’s fastest-growing electric car market. Last year, the country purchased a total of 46,143 new electric cars. That makes one of every three new cars sold in the country an electric one. By contrast, US citizens bought more than 17 million new cars last year, with just 1.2 percent of them being electric, according to the International Energy Agency.