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The Race for EVs

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E-trucks with Overhead Power Lines on Autobahn

January 26th 2017

Volvo truck

The idea of overhead power lines for electric vehicles is not new – after all, in the railway industry it is rather common. For electric trucks, it also has been considered for a while. Now the German government plans to test the technology on public highways.

The project, to be managed by innovation agency VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik, aims to test the technology in a real-world environment with real traffic. Starting point of the considerations around this technology is the question how the growing roadbound freight transport can be coped with without unreasonable impact to the environment. The German federal government estimates that by 2030 the railway system can transport only about 20% of the additional goods that need to be carted. Which in turn allows the conclusion that the lions’s share of these goods will be transported on roads. Electrified trucks could be a solution that meets both the requirement for mass transport capability and environmental friendliness, at least as the electric energy used is generated by renewable sources.

In contrast to batteries, overhead power lines allow driving long distances in electric mode. To this end, the routes need to be equipped with overhead power lines. For sections that do not have this kind of infrastructure, the trucks are equipped with a conventional diesel engine.

The system has been developed by Siemens; the company is testing it for several years in a remote test area in the northeast of Germany, in Sweden and in California. The tests on public highways will now take the technology to the next level. So far it is known that the test routes will have an extension of 12 kilometers and will be located in the states of Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein.


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