This Scania Class 8 tractor can run on conventional diesel power, or connect to overhead wires and run on electric power at highway speeds. Photo: Scania

This Scania Class 8 tractor can run on conventional diesel power, or connect to overhead wires and run on electric power at highway speeds. Photo: Scania

A joint project near the city of of Gävle in central Sweden is testing the feasibility of running electric-diesel hybrid trucks on stretches in real-world traffic conditions.

Swedish truck OEM Scania (which is owned by Germany's Volkswagen) is working with German technology-development firm Siemens to develop a new concept in commercial vehicle operation.

The 2-kilometer stretch of road features a dedicated hybrid truck lane with a Siemans conductive system with overhead electrical wires, very much like the systems commonly used on mass-transit street cars, buses and trains today.

Scania said it sees the Electric Road E16 project as a key component in achieving Sweden’s ambition of an energy-efficient and fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030. It can also help to strengthen Sweden’s competitiveness in the rapidly developing area of sustainable transport.

Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt, who is responsible for Scania’s research into electrification, said that, “The potential fuel savings through electrification are considerable and the technology can become a cornerstone for fossil-free road transport services.”

When the Scania Class 8 tractors are on a conventional stretch of road, they run on diesel engine power. When the truck pulls into the dedicated conductive lane, a forked metal bar, called a pantograph, extends upward from the top of the cab and makes a physical connection with the overhead wires.

Once that overhead connection is made, the truck’s diesel engine shuts down and electrical power supplied by the conductive system allows the truck to continue running at highway speeds through its electric drivetrain.

Electric Road E16 is being funded in part by the Swedish government, which has invested approximately $88 million, with an additional $50 million coming from private businesses and the Gävleborg regional authority in Sweden where the electric road is located.

Scania’s R&D head Claes Erixon said, “The electric road is one important milestone on the journey towards fossil-free transport. Scania is committed to the success of this project and is committed to sustainable transport solutions.”

Erixon noted that the electric road is only one of several pioneering technologies that Scania is working on to help the spread of sustainable solutions within both urban and long-haul transport.

He said the company is also developing technologies for alternative fuels, hybrid and fully-electric vehicles as well as autonomously and wirelessly connected transport in parallel with its work to further enhance and refine the products of the future.

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