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Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks on the Autobahn

PortandTerminal.com, May 24, 2019

Trucks make up only about 5 percent of all vehicles on the road, but they produce more than 25 percent of global warming emissions that come from the transportation sector. Germany is experimenting to fix that problem.

Frankfurt, Germany – Germany believes that it may have found the solution to the diesel truck pollution problem. The concept is to use overhead electrical lines to power trucks with electricity instead.

Developed by Siemens, the new system allows trucks with special equipment mounted on their roofs to connect to electrified lines while travelling at speeds of up to 90 kilometres per hour (56 miles per hour).

The country has started tests of what is called the eHighway system on a 3.1-mile stretch of the Autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt.

(Photo BERND SETTNIK/AFP/Getty Images)

The very first eHighway was launched in Sweden in 2016. The concept in Sweden is the same — the trucks use pantographs (the pickups on their roofs) to latch on to the overhead cables and draw electricity.

The thing on top of a train, trolley car, bus, and now the diesel-electric truck is a pantograph

The system being tested in Germany won’t have much of an impact for a while. Only five trucks will run the electrified stretch each day. That reduced emissions footprint though could scale up as more trucks support the system and could encourage trucking companies to go electric knowing that their cargo trucks could drive longer on a charge. It’s a great start with huge potential that should be applauded and encouraged.

The German government spent €70 million ($77 million) to develop trucks that can use the system. Siemens said that a truck owner could save €20,000 ($22,370) on fuel over 100,000 kilometers (62,137 miles).

“Electrified trucks are a particularly efficient solution on the road to carbon-neutral transportation,”

Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, State Secretary, Germany Federal Ministry for the Environment

Tests and demonstrations of the eHighway technology have also been conducted on a smaller scale in Sweden and near the US ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

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