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.
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.
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