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Swedish road freight goes electric on the eHighway

Siemens claims the eHighway is twice as efficient as conventional internal combustion engines and can cut energy consumption by half

Hybrid Scania truck travels along the eHighway (Image copyright: Scania CV AB)
Hybrid Scania truck travels along the eHighway (Image copyright: Scania CV AB)

Sweden is trialling the world’s first electrified highway. eHighway uses an overhead catenary system to power heavy trucks along a two-kilometre stretch of the E16, north of Stockholm.


Two Scania diesel hybrid vehicles have been adapted in collaboration with Siemens to operate using the overhead electric contact line. The trial will last for two years.


Transport accounts for more than one third of Sweden’s CO2 emissions, with almost half of that arising from freight transport. As part of its climate protection strategy, Sweden has committed to having a fossil fuel independent transport sector by 2030. Due to forecast growth in freight transport, road freight is set to grow even as rail capacity is increased. A solution to decarbonise road freight is therefore deemed necessary


“The Siemens eHighway is twice as efficient as conventional internal combustion engines. This means that not only is energy consumption cut by half, but local air pollution is reduced too,” said Roland Edel, chief engineer at Siemens Mobility Division.


During the two-year trial, Sweden’s Transport Administration Trafikverket and Gävleborg County want to create a knowledge base on whether the Siemens eHighway system is suitable for future long-term commercial use and further deployment.


“By far the greatest part of the goods transported in Sweden goes on the road, but only a limited part of the goods can be moved to other traffic types. That is why we must free the trucks from their dependence on fossil fuels, so that they can be of use also in the future,” said Anders Berndtsson, chief strategist at the Swedish Transport Administration. “Electric roads offer this possibility and are an excellent complement to the transport system.”


The core of the system is an intelligent pantograph combined with a hybrid drive system. A sensor system enables the pantograph to connect to and disconnect from the overhead line at speeds of up to 90km per hour. Trucks equipped with the system draw power from the overhead catenary wires as they drive, enabling them to travel efficiently and with zero local emissions. The hybrid system, means operation outside of the contact line is also possible so the flexibility of conventional trucks is maintained.


Siemens is developing another eHighway demonstration project in California. The project is being undertaken in collaboration with Volvo on behalf of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Tests will be conducted throughout 2017 to see how different truck configurations interact with the eHighway infrastructure in the locality of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.


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