Automotive

First stretch of electrified highway for trucking opens on Germany's Autobahn

Siemens' first shared its idea for the eHighway back in 2012
Siemens' first shared its idea for the eHighway back in 2012
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Siemens' first shared its idea for the eHighway back in 2012
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Siemens' first shared its idea for the eHighway back in 2012
Germany inaugurated its first eHighway, along a section of the Autobahn, on Tuesday
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Germany inaugurated its first eHighway, along a section of the Autobahn, on Tuesday
The new eHighway in Germany will demonstrate the feasibility of overhead contact systems on the Autobahn, along with how much energy they can save and pollution they can avoid
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The new eHighway in Germany will demonstrate the feasibility of overhead contact systems on the Autobahn, along with how much energy they can save and pollution they can avoid

After first being commissioned by the German state of Hesse in August 2017 to build a stretch of electrified highway along the Autobahn, Siemens has now added the finishing touches to the system and fired it up for the first time. Intended as a greener solution for road freight transport, the eHighway follows similar installations in other countries and is hoped to demonstrate how cleaner trucking can bring significant savings in fuel costs and pollution.

Siemens' first shared its idea for the eHighway back in 2012, where hybrid diesel/electric trucks fitted with purpose-built pantographs could tap into power lines running overhead to hum along the highway at up to 90 km/h (56 mph) using electricity only. It has since installed versions of this eHighway in the US and Sweden, and has now inaugurated another along Germany's Autobahn.

Germany inaugurated its first eHighway, along a section of the Autobahn, on Tuesday
Germany inaugurated its first eHighway, along a section of the Autobahn, on Tuesday

The 10-km (6.2-mi) eHighway runs between Zeppelinheim/Cargo City Süd interchange at the Frankfurt Airport and the Darmstadt/Weiterstadt interchange and is the first time the system has been tested on a public highway in Germany. If all goes to plan, the system will demonstrate the feasibility of overhead contact systems on the Autobahn, along with how much energy they can save and pollution they can avoid.

According to Siemens, the system is twice as efficient as internal combustion engines and therefore uses just half the energy. If 30 percent of Germany's highway truck traffic were electrified in this way, and through renewable sources, it would negate 6,000,000 tons of C02. €20,000 (US$22,400), meanwhile, could apparently be saved by a 40-ton truck traveling 100,000 km (62,000 mi) along Siemens' eHighway.

Source: Siemens

12 comments
jeffco67
Wow. Idiot trucking companies here in the U.S. that govern their trucks at 62 mph and then run them in 75 mph states are a major aggravation and safety hazard. Can't imagine what kinds of mayhem can be achieved with a 56 mph truck running on the Autobahn. Yay greenies.
f8lee
Here's hoping the truck has internal batteries in case an accident or road conditions require the rig cannot sit directly beneath the cabling...
VincentWolf
Ugly power lines. Put them in the ground and make slot trucks instead. Dumbest thing ever when Telsa has proved battery powered semi trucks are viable.
Bruce Golden
Is an interesting concept ... likely many folks would object to overhead lines and powered road slots have their own set of issues but supplement with batteries, may well be good solution
alan c
When this system was around over a hundred years ago (moving passengers) it was called a trolleybus. The Scania trucks have a smallish battery and can run without being connected to the overhead wires. No doubt connection and disconnection is now automated and not done by a man with a long wooden pole.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This sounds like the trolley busses that were common in the 50s.
Mr T
This is pointless for short distance trucking, battery trucks already have that covered and are simpler, more effective, and without the ugly overhead lines. The only place this might get some traction is on long distance routes, but then, the amount of copper and steel required to build such a network would vastly outweigh the resources for making battery trucks and fast chargers I suspect, so there really is no point to this. Siemens are pushing this idea because it uses the sort of equipment they manufacture, if they were a battery maker they would be pushing battery trucks instead. Unfortunately, bureaucrats and politicians are not technically literate enough to know what's a good idea and what isn't.
Johannes
@jeffco, 56 mph is the maximum connect/disconnect speed, not the maximum driving speed while connected (why do so few people read the linked source article?). And another benefit will be no trucks overtaking each other and blocking both lanes, with the faster truck going a mere 0.5 mph faster than the slower.
SimonClarke
I see major problems with the over head lines, I can't remember where but under surface induction charging has already been proven. Also why hybrid? designers need to stop thinking engines. a lorry with a 200 mile range would be fine because as soon as it is on the motorway/interstate it would be charging. Tesla trucks are designed to do 65mph along any stretch of US interstate regardless of the incline.
windykites
Why not use electrified trains to carry dozens of containers for long distance, and collect locally? This gets lorries off the roads.