Germany Tests Its Own ‘E-Highway’ for Hybrid Trucks

Last week Germany joined the ranks of countries who are looking at E-highways for a way to curb vehicular emission

Germany is betting on the on “electric highways” to foster eco-friendly trucking. The country has started real-world tests of an eHighway system on a 3.1-mile stretch of the Autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, with an electric-diesel hybrid truck merging into everyday traffic while it received power from overhead cables to keep it from using its combustion engine.

The very first eHighway launched in Sweden in 2016. The concept here is the same — the trucks use pantographs (the pickps on their roofs) to latch on to the overhead cables and draw electricity. The active pantograph transmits the energy from the overhead contact line to the electric motor of the eHighway truck. The ironing – the application of the current collector to the overhead line – and the reverse operation of the ironing can be carried out easily at speeds of 0 to 90 km / h.  Trucks can also feed electricity into the grid when they brake, making the system particularly useful if there’s ever a jam.

The eHighway system is based on a secure and proven infrastructure for the continuous power supply of heavy commercial vehicles. It can be an addition to existing road infrastructure, where they can be integrated and operated. It combines the efficiency of electrified rail lines with the flexibility of trucks and halves energy consumption with unrestricted mobility.

The eHighway system opens up the use of renewable energy to truck traffic and can significantly contribute to the reduction of CO 2 emissions. Both the ecological and the economic advantages of the eHighway system increase with increasing utilization of the respective route.

The system won’t have a major impact for a while. Just five trucks will run the electrified stretch each day where roughly 10 percent of the road’s 135,000 daily vehicles are heavy trucks. That reduced emissions footprint could scale up as more trucks support the system, though, and could encourage trucking companies to go electric knowing that their cargo haulers could drive longer on a charge.

Picture credit: Siemens

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