Siemens building Germany’s first eHighway

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Following the launch of demonstration projects in the USA and Sweden, Siemens has been commissioned to build the first infrastructure for electric trucks on a German autobahn, which aims to provide sustainable freight transport by cutting energy consumption in half.

Siemens has been contracted by the German state of Hesse to build an overhead contact line for electrified freight transport on a 6.2-miles long (10km) stretch of the A5 federal autobahn between the Zeppelinheim/Cargo City Süd interchange at Frankfurt Airport and the Darmstadt/Weiterstadt interchange. Siemens originally presented its innovative eHighway concept in 2012, and now the system will be tested on a public highway in Germany for the first time.

The system is being built as part of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety’s (BMUB) ‘Electrified, innovative heavy freight transport on autobahns’ (ELISA) joint project.

The field trial is being organized by Hessen Mobil, which is responsible for road and transport management in the state, and Siemens will be responsible for the planning, construction, and maintenance of the system.

Transferring freight transport to rail has its limitations, so future cargo movements will need to be carried by trucks that combine reliable service with minimum environmental impact. The eHighway is particularly effective from an environmental and economic perspective on heavily used truck routes, such as between ports or industrial estates and cargo hubs.

The eHighway system is twice as efficient compared to internal combustion engines. Not only does it cut energy consumption in half, but it also significantly reduces local air pollution. The core element of the system is an intelligent pantograph on the trucks, which is combined with a hybrid drive system. Trucks equipped with the system operate locally emission-free with electricity from the overhead line and automatically switch to a hybrid engine on roads without overhead lines.

“Construction of the system will demonstrate the feasibility of integrating overhead contact systems with a public highway,” said 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.”

Roland Edel, chief technology officer at Siemens’s mobility division, noted, “With the eHighway, we’ve created an economically viable solution for climate-neutral freight transport by road. Our technology is an already existing and feasible alternative to trucks operating with internal combustion engines.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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