Photo: Siemens

Photo: Siemens

Specially equipped Scania trucks will travel on Siemens' first eHighway system, which it has opened on a public road in Sweden on a 2-kilometer stretch of the E16 highway north of Stockholm.

Using a catenary system of overhead power lines, which some have compared to electric trolley systems, the eHighway will be used to test two diesel hybrid trucks manufactured by Scania designed to operate with the technology. The country of Sweden sees this as a way toward its commitment to fossil-fuel-independent transport by 2030.

During the two-year trial, Sweden transport officials will study whether the Siemens eHighway system is suitable for future long-term commercial use and further deployment.

"The Siemens eHighway is twice as efficient as conventional internal combustion engines. The Siemens innovation supplies trucks with power from an overhead contact line,” said Roland Edel, chief engineer at the Siemens Mobility Division. “This means that not only is energy consumption cut by half, but local air pollution is reduced too."

The core of the system is an intelligent pantograph, which sends electrical current to the vehicle, 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 55 mph.

Trucks equipped with the system draw power from overhead wires as they drive, allowing them to travel efficiently and with zero local emissions. The hybrid system allows the vehicle to also operate outside of the contact line, allowing for the same flexibility as conventional trucks.

The eHighway technology is designed to be open to different configurations, allowing companies to use other types of powertrains such as all-battery or electric/natural gas hybrid solutions instead of the diesel hybrid being tested today.

Siemens is also developing another eHighway demonstration project in California. The project is part of a collaboration with Volvo on behalf of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The test will be conducted throughout 2017 to see how different truck configurations work with the eHighway infrastructure in the area surrounding the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.