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World’s first electrified roadways enter operation in Germany

Siemens and the German Government have launched an electric highway for trucks on a 10km stretch of road from Frankfurt Airport to an industrial park. Credit: Siemens.

Germany launched the first electrified truck route in the world on 7 May 2019, using overhead power lines supplied by renewable energy sources to cut emissions significantly in the local area.

The system designed by Siemens uses similar technology to that seen on electric railways in Europe to connect the hybrid trucks to the power. While operating on electricity the maximum speed the lorries can travel is 90 kph (56 mph).

The German government has invested €70 million ($77 million) to develop trucks that can use the system and with power lines now installed on a 10-kilometer stretch of road between the freight hub at Frankfurt Airport and an industrial park.

Trucks will be connected to the electrical supply through the active pantograph, the major technological development. The pantograph can connect and disconnect the vehicle to the contact lines at all speeds and transfers electrical energy directly from the overhead power lines to the truck’s electric motor.

“A specially designed sensor technology allows the movable pantograph to automatically adjust its position under the contact line to compensate for lateral movements of the truck in the lane. The mechanism also minimizes wear across the pantograph to ensure a long lifespan,” said the company.

The eHighway solution is particularly beneficial to operations of less than 50 kilometers (31 miles) such as from ports to distribution centers. “In these situations, the eHighway system produces a significant reduction in pollutant and CO2 emissions. At the same time, the economic benefits of the system are felt particularly quickly on these high-use routes.”

The system reduces fuel consumption and air pollution and also cuts noise levels in the area as well as saving as much as €20,000 ($22,300) for every 100,000 kilometres (62,000 miles) in a 40-ton truck.

“The eHighway system is based on a safe and proven infrastructure to provide a continuous energy supply to heavy commercial vehicles. It can be integrated and operated within the existing road infrastructure without significant effort and combines the efficiency of electrified railroads with the flexibility of trucks, halving energy consumption while maintaining full mobility,” said a Siemen’s statement.

Siemens’ eHighway hybrid truck technology.