Siemens presents “eHighway”

Just like trains and trams, hybrid trucks can also feed on electricity from aerial cables.­ Siemens’s eHighway concept demonstrates just how feasible this system is.

2030 will Schweden im Transportsektor frei von fossilen Brennstoffen sein. Foto: Stephanie Wiegner 2016

2030 – the year by which Sweden’s transport sector intends to be fossil-free. Photo: Scania

On a two-kilometer stretch of the E16 highway, just north of Stockholm, two hybrid Scanias are busy racking up the miles. But these aren’t just any hybrid trucks. They’re cruising with their current collectors extended, drawing power from overhead lines. Technology giant Siemens AG has been operating the eHighway demonstration project in Sweden since June 2016. More than 30 partners are on board, including the Swedish Transport Administration, ­Gävleborg county and Scania. The eHighway comprises technology that strikes a middle ground between road and rail, with the goal of electrifying freight transport. For a country such as Sweden – which intends to make its transport sector independent of fossil fuels by 2030 – the prospects of lower CO2 and nitrous oxide emissions make the system especially attractive.

The technological investment required for the eHighway is high: separate overhead lines are required for each direction of travel, and then there are the vehicles themselves too – hybrid trucks capable of drawing power directly from said lines. The current collectors fitted operate a sensor system, able to maintain or interrupt contact with the aerial cabling at speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour. Should the vehicle be disconnected from the system – be it by changing lane or taking an exit – the vehicle’s main drive takes over ­seamlessly. By the end of the year, ­Siemens also plans to unveil a similar eHighway in ­California. The system will be implemented on a 1.6-kilometer heavily-used connection between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and a ­hinterland logistics center. France, the Netherlands and ­Germany have also expressed interest in the eHighway.

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