German conglomerate company Siemens has been tasked with building a 10-kilometre stretch of overhead contact lines on one of Germany’s autobahns to allow trucks to temporarily drive on electric power only while also charging their batteries.
Acting as somewhat of a stepping stone to full-electric trucking, Siemens’s ‘eHighway’ project involves overhead power lines similar to the ones used by electric trams and trains, which allows hybrid trucks to drive at up to 90km/h while creating zero emissions. Similar systems have already been installed in Sweden and California.
While Siemens has been commissioned to manage the construction of the eHighway, the project is being funded by state and federal governments in Germany. Benefits of the system can be viewed in the below infographic:
The Siemens eHighway will reside on a 10km stretch on the A5 federal autobahn between the Zeppelinheim/Cargo City Süd interchange at the Frankfurt Airport and the Darmstadt/Weiterstadt interchange.
“Construction of the system will demonstrate the feasibility of integrating overhead contact systems with a public highway,” said Gerd Riegelhuth, head of transport for Hessenmobil – a German road and traffic management company.
“The system will be used for real transport networks, and prove the practicality of climate-neutral freight transport in the urban region of Frankfurt.”
However, the move doesn’t come without its limitations. To be of any use, the overhead contact lines need to be installed over a significant distance, which is quite costly.
Additionally, connectors need to be installed on the trucks so they can make use of the eHighway’s facilities, though reports indicate that several truck manufacturers have shown interest in the technology.
Siemens claims that the eHighway could save some 6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum if 30 per cent of Germany’s truck traffic is electrified and supplied with renewables.
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