Are eHighways the Future of Long Haul Trucking?

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Scania worked with Semiens to develop its electric hybrid truck

Scania worked with Semiens to develop its electric hybrid truck

In an attempt to reduce emissions and pollutants released into the atmosphere, Germany has opened a six-mile stretch of highway south of Frankfurt where hybrid electric trucks can charge while the drive.

The project, called Elisa (electrified, innovative heavy traffic on the Autobahn), is being tested on one of the busiest segments of the Autobahn in Germany. It uses specially designed trucks which can charge as they drive underneath overhead wires -- so long as they are driving under 56mph.

Siemens developed the technology and said that the section of the roadway can help eliminate CO2 and nitrogen oxides from being released. According to its website the project is scalable and can be used in a wide range of uses from shuttle services to long-haul traffic.

"The eHighway system is based on a safe and proven infrastructure to provide a continuous energy supply to heavy commercial vehicles," its website reads. "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.

"The eHighway system enables trucks to use renewable energy and can contribute significantly to reducing CO2 emissions. Both the ecological and economic advantages of the eHighway system grow with increased use of the route."

Germany spent close to $77 million to help develop the technology as well as the trucks being used. It is estimated that per 62,000 miles (100,000km) a driver can save upwards of $23,000.

"Electrified trucks are particularly efficient solution on the road to carbon-neutral transportation," Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, state secretary at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, told News18.

Truck maker Scania worked with Volkswagen and Siemens on the electric road project and the company will turn over results of its usage to the Technical University of Darmstadt to determine the efficiency as well as overall reduction of pollutants.

The stretch of highway is the first of three that will soon be opened in Germany, the states of Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein, Baden-Württemberg will also be launching a test track in the near future. The roadway in Schleswig-Holstein should be completed inside of the calendar year while Baden-Württemberg has year to begin construction.

"The Siemens’ eHighway makes it possible to reduce the use of fossil fuels and truck operating costs, at the same time eliminating local emissions such as CO2 and nitrogen oxides," the technology company concluded.

"The eHighway system is applicable for various use cases."

For more on the eHighway system, visit Semiens.com.