Germany has just launched its first public test system for using overhead lines to power electric trucks.
The 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) stretch of overhead lines, which runs through a crucial portion of the Hessen autobahn from Frankfurt airport, will be tested by a fleet of electrical trucks until late 2022.
The overhead line hybrid trucks (OH trucks) that are being tested on the road are equipped with electric motors, batteries, and diesel engines. When the trucks drive underneath of the power line at speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour, the charging system automatically connects to the overhead lines for charging.
While the truck is connected to the overhead line, it drives with the help of its electric motor while simultaneously charging its battery. With the energy stored in the battery, the OH truck can continue past the overhead lines and move emission-free along the motorway.
In the event that the battery is empty, the OH truck still has a backup fossil fuel engine on board so the vehicle can continue drive.
The eHighway system, which was developed by Siemens and funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, allows big rig transit vehicles to travel with the same amount of flexibility as electrical railways – all while dramatically reducing the amount of nitrogen oxides and CO2 emissions generated by the freight shipping industry.
The world’s first eHighway was launched in Sweden back in 2016. Upon successfully testing the technology, Siemens says that their eHighway systems are two times more efficient compared to conventional combustion engines.
Furthermore, their website claims that if just 30% of German trucks in highway traffic were electrified, it could prevent more than 6 million tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere every year.
“The inauguration of the first German eHighway in Hesse marks a milestone in the decarbonization of road freight transport in Germany,” says Roland Edel, head of technology at Siemens Mobility GmbH. “Siemens Mobility innovation combines the advantages of electrified railways with the flexibility of road freight transport, thus offering an efficient, economical and environmentally friendly alternative to truck transport Internal combustion engines.”
Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, who is the Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, added: “Electrified trolleybuses are a particularly efficient solution on the road to climate-neutral freight transport, which we have tested for many years on a non-public test track.
“The practical test on the A5 between Frankfurt and Darmstadt will start, and two more test tracks in Schleswig-Holstein and Baden-Württemberg will follow.”