Electric trucks soon to be tested on Autobahn

Electric trucks soon to be tested on Autobahn

By eeNews Europe

According to media reports, the installation of the related infrastructure could start in 2017, after promising projects have been selected. The infrastructure consists of an overhead contact wire that provides the trucks with electric energy.

The concept is driven by the ever-growing freight traffic and the desire to limit the CO2 emission to keep the climate change at bay. The German government expect the freight traffic to grow by 40% by the year 2030. The obvious idea was electromobility. However, since today’s batteries are not powerful enough to drive the heavy vehicles across large distances, electric company Siemens remembered the catenary technique that has been proven over decades and in millions of electric locomotives. But these vehicles won’t be able to run completely without the normal diesel engine. Along with truck manufacturer Scania, Siemens developed and tested a number of variants with electric and diesel motors in different configurations. Depending on the battery dimension and the performance of the electric motor the trucks can travel certain distances with electricity alone, even if no overhead wires are available. If full power is required, for instance for overtaking slower vehicles, the diesel engine is added and the pantograph is lowered to enable the truck to change to the passing lane. After overtaking is completed, the truck returns to the right lane and sensors guide the pantograph to re-establish contact with the wire.

The tests planned will show whether the technology is usable on public roads. Considered will be relatively long Autobahn stretches as well as commuting stretches, for instance between a port and a railroad station. According to the reports, a similar project is currently under construction in the vicinity of the port of Los Angeles.

A decisive aspect for the success of the entire concept will be the question if the cost for the additional infrastructure and vehicle equipment will be returned by lower energy cost. The catenary infrastructure is estimated on some 2.5 million euros for 1 km.

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