German engineer Siemens has been commissioned by the German state of Hesse to build a 10km-long highway with electrified wires overhead that trucks can connect to at speed with a pantograph.
The line will supply electricity to hybrid trucks, which are able to operate twice as efficiently as they would when running on petrol or diesel, Siemens said, claiming that a 40-ton truck running for 100,000km on an eHighway would realise €20,000 in reduced fuel costs.
The system will be installed on the A5 federal autobahn between the Zeppelinheim interchange at Frankfurt Airport and the Darmstad interchange.
Roland Edel, chief technology officer with Seimens’ Mobility Division, said: "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."
Siemens’ poster for its eHighway concept
Gerd Riegelhuth, head of transport of Hessen Mobil Construction, said the aim of the trial was to demonstrate the feasibility of integrating overhead contact systems with a public highway. A similar experiment has already been tested in Sweden, although this was a smaller scale experiment, involving 2.2km of road and two hybrid trucks.
Siemens says the key innovation is the "intelligent" pantograph, which allows the trucks to connect to the catenary system while travelling at 90km/h.
Siemens will be responsible for the planning and construction of the Hesse system. It is being built as part of a federal project known as Electrified Innovative Heavy Freight Transport on Autobahns.
Top image: A hybrid truck testing the system in Sweden (Siemens)