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Hybrid trucks take power from overhead lines in German trial

11 September, 2017

A 10km stretch of autobahn near Frankfurt in Germany is being converted to provide power to hybrid-electric trucks from overhead lines. The technology, called eHighway, is said to be twice as efficient as internal combustion engines, halving energy consumption and reducing air pollution.

The core element of the system is an intelligent pantograph mounted on the trucks, combined with the hybrid drive system. When trucks are under the lines they will operate purely electrically, avoiding any local emissions. When they move to roads without overhead lines, they will switch automatically switch to their hybrid drives.

The trial, due to start at the end of 2018, will be the first test of the eHighway system on a public highway in Germany. Siemens has been commissioned by the German state of Hesse to plan, build and, possibly, maintain the system. A shorter 2km stretch of eHighway – also supplied by Siemens – has been operating in Sweden for two years. The company is also developing a eHighway demonstration project in California.

The eHighway trial will allow trucks equipped with pantographs to draw electric power from overhead lines on a 10km stretch of German autobahn

“Construction of the system will demonstrate the feasibility of integrating overhead contact systems with a public highway,” says Gerd Riegelhuth, head of transport at Hessen Mobil. “The system will be used for real transport networks, and prove the practicality of climate-neutral freight transport in the urban region of Frankfurt.”

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