The UK will start off-road trials later this year for 'electric highways' designed to charge electric and hybrid vehicles as they move, allowing drivers of ultra-low emission vehicles to travel long distances without needing to stop and charge the car's battery.

The trials, which are the first of their kind, will test the feasibility of installing underground technology in Britain's major roads which can charge electric and hybrid engines vehicles fitted with wireless capabilities.

Highways England Chief Highways Engineer Mike Wilson said: "Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever-increasing pace, and we're committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emissions vehicles on England's motorways and major A roads."

There are reportedly 37,000 electric/hybrid vehicles in the UK and only 8700 charge points. It is suspected that this comparatively low number of charging stations makes consumers wary when it comes to ultra-low-emission vehicle purchases. Highways England is likely hoping the prospect of 'electric highways' will go some way in alleviating the public's concerns over the practically of electric vehicles.

UK transport minister Andrew Jones said: "The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities. The Government is already committing £500 million ($779.5 million) over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector. As this study shows, we continue to explore options on how to improve journeys and make low-emission vehicles accessible to families and businesses."

As well as investigating the potential to install technology to wirelessly power ultra-low efficient vehicles, Highways England is also committed to installing plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the UK's major roads as part of the government's Road Investment Strategy.