Siemens has been awarded a contract by the German state of Hesse to build an overhead catenary line to run electric trucks along. The line will be built on a 10 kilometer stretch of the A5 federal autobahn between the Zeppelinheim/Cargo City Süd interchange at the Frankfurt Airport and the Darmstadt/Weiterstadt interchange.
The system is being built as part of the joint project “Electrified, innovative heavy freight transport on autobahns,” (ELISA) of Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).
“Construction of the system will demonstrate the feasibility of integrating overhead contact systems with a public highway. The system will be used for real transport networks, and prove the practicality of climate-neutral freight transport in the urban region of Frankfurt,” said Gerd Riegelhuth, head of transport of Hessen Mobil, which is managing the project.
The eHighway is twice as efficient compared to internal combustion engines, Siemens says. The core element of the system is an intelligent pantograph on the trucks combined with a hybrid drive system. Trucks equipped with the system operate locally emission-free with electricity from the overhead line and automatically switch to a hybrid engine on roads without overhead lines, much like Amtrak and commuter trains do along Northeast tracks in the U.S.
Did you know?
Approximately 50% of all truck drivers are 45 years old or older, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 1.3% are younger than 24.
“With the eHighway, we’ve created an economically viable solution for climate-neutral freight transport by road. Our technology is an already existing and feasible alternative to trucks operating with internal combustion engines.”
– Roland Edel, chief technology officer of Siemens’ Mobility Division, on the electrification of a section of Germany’s autobahn
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Siemens will be testing an electric highway in Germany that uses overhead wires and pantographs on trucks to provide power, much like trains. The trucks switch to diesel power when there are no overhead wires. To retrofit large portions of this country with such a system though would likely not be economically feasible, although it is something that could work in the ports possibly.
Hammer down everyone!