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Siemens ‘eHighway Of The Future’ envisions electrification of trucks and select highway lanes

At EVS26 in Los Angeles, Siemens described its ‘eHighway of the Future’ concept for the electrification of trucks and select highway lanes via overhead electrified wires similar to how modern day trolleys or streetcars are powered on many city streets.

Currently being tested in Germany, pilot projects are already being planned for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to connect to cargo centers. The technology also can also be expanded to allow trucks to travel through densely populated cities.

When most people think of vehicle emissions, they assume cars do most of the damage, but it’s actually commercial trucks that are largely to blame. Freight transportation on US roadways is expected to double by 2050, while global oil resources continue to deplete. And by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions are forecasted to jump 30% due to freight transport alone.

—Daryl Dulaney, CEO, Siemens Infrastructure & Cities, United States

Siemens has developed the supporting technology necessary: infrastructure, software, hardware and drives. This technology compliments Siemens’ ELFA portfolio of complete hybrid drive system. The ELFA traction hybrid drive systems enable personal and commercial vehicles to save more than 30% in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Essentially, all that is needed is a hybrid diesel electric freight truck with built-in technology and software to connect to overhead electrified wires. The trucks are designed to use both electricity and diesel power and will automatically switch to electric mode when they detect and attach to the overhead lines. Once the truck leaves the lines, it switches back to diesel.



I would prefer wireless transmission so that regular cars could also benefit, a bit of efficiency loss but it has to be lots cheaper to implement... and digging up the road is not cheap. 55kW is about what an 18-wheeler needs to cruise at a moderate speed.

Hopefully someone will develop the tech.


There is a similar proposal in Sweden to electrify some 60 miles of freeway at a cost of $US370M-this is for iron ore trucks in the far north.




One could always load heavy trailers on e-trains and transport them to and from railroad yards with e-tractors/trucks.

In road wireless on-the-move charging is a strong possibility for future e-vehicles to get unlimited range with smaller batteries. If done on new roads or when old roads are being resurfaced, the installation cost could be acceptable and could be recovered quickly enough with user's fees.

The original cost could be partially or fully covered with special fuel taxes. USA could easily add another $0.18/gallon Fed fuel tax for that purpose. What a good way to put many people back to work doing something very useful for the nation.


How is this better than just putting the $#%)$% stuff on trains?

These talented engineers could be put to better use.


You want to electrify the railroads first?.. it is a valid point but those are extremely efficient running on diesel.


If trains are extremely efficient - put the truck loads on trains.

The tradeoffs for various ways to ship goods on land, from trains to trucks to airplanes (UPS) should be done with regard to hard reality.

Overhead wires or under road wireless should not be implemented until they prove, by real world engineering evaluation, that they save money.

They should not be funded by politicians because they are "good".

Roger Pham

There is no doubt that this is a highly viable way to reduce petroleum consumption. Trolleys have used this for years, as well as electric trains.

There should be no doubt that this will save a lot of money, a whole lot of money, due to the very high cost of petroleum. Diesel fuel has about 36 kWh/gallon that retails for over $3.60. At 40% efficiency of a diesel truck on highway average use, a kWh at the crankshaft will cost over $0.25. A heavy-duty electric drive with efficiency of 90% with electricity rate of $0.10/kWh would cost only $0.11 per kWh at the motor shaft, which means that electric drive would cost 2-1/2 times less the diesel fuel.

The money spent on building the infrastructure can easily come from job-creation fund, or economic stimulus fund, etc...
Reduction in petroleum importation is a big deal even if the domestically-made alternative fuel has no cost saving. Here, domestically-generated electricity costs 2-1/2 times less. And non-polluting to other motorists on the roadway...What is there not to like about this?


I see ToppaTom's point: this technology will be trialled in Californian ports where laws/mandates/whatever dictate electrified solutions irrespective of the financial cost(*). Like Roger I would have thought the business case alone would work for trolley buses - so why aren't they being trialled in such an application?

*) In the past the health costs of the pollution was ignored so the old way was also unbalanced.


Putting things on trains means costs and delays for the transfers.

I'd leana towards a Bladerunner-style dual-mode system to put the trucks on rails and also get full separation of truck and light-vehicle traffic, but if overhead wires can go on the roads, great!


After ships, (current) railroads are the most efficient way to move cargo and passengers. Electrified railroads are cleaner than current units and another 2X + times more efficient and are ahead of all other ground/air modes.

Until such times as more efficient long range electrified trailers/trucks are common place, most trailers could be loaded on flat rail cars and be transported across the nation at higher speed by e-locomotives (progressively) as rails become electrified. Meanwhile, current diesel electric units could do the job.

Taking the many million large trucks and buses off our highways would have very beneficial side benefits (less liquid fuel used and less GHG and pollution) and be welcomed by most car drivers. Secondly, highways and bridges would last twice as long between major repairs.

There are very good reasons why China is building 100,000+ Km of new VHS e-railroads. We can't afford to fall too far behind.


I forgot.

Switching from e-street cars to diesel city buses and from railroads to large diesel trucks were two very bad decisions responsible (as least partly) for on-going higher ground, passenger and cargo, transport cost.

Switching passengers from rails to private cars was extremely costly in highway and fuel cost and could be one of the worse decision ever taken.

The combined long term effect is making the middle class progressively poorer and driving the poor to third world class level across the major free democracies.


Electrified railroads have been proven cost effective in countries around the world, why are we north americans so far behind on this?


I wonder how well the trucking industry will take to these proposals? From a pure cost perspective would truckers not have lower conversion costs by adopting NG - ICE?? Considering how cheap and getting cheaper NG is.

Electrified trains, passenger and freight keep getting shot down by lunkheads like the FL governor.


LNG is certain to take off; even at 2008's record-high prices, LNG is still a lot cheaper than ULSD.

Electrified highways require public infrastructure, meaning the political process has to work.  That's a lot slower and less certain, though it would ultimately be better.

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