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“Trolley-bus” trucks on trial

“Trolley-bus” trucks on trial

NZ Truck & Driver News

 September 2020   

A working trial, running diesel/electric hybrid trucks equipped with trolley bus-style pantographs so they can connect with catenary overhead lines for their power, is now fully operational in Germany.

Five Scania R450s, each run by a different transport operator, are hauling freight on a route that includes a five-kilometre stretch of motorway near Frankfurt.

The Siemens-developed concept is the first of three German eHighways – the second also close to becoming fully operational and the third scheduled to be commissioned by the end of the year.

Proponents believe that such eHighways will be an essential measure to help meet tough exhaust emissions targets for trucks set by the European Parliament last year – demanding a 30% cut in carbon dioxide emissions from new trucks by 2030.

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A working trial, running diesel/electric hybrid trucks equipped with trolley bus-style pantographs so they can connect with catenary overhead lines for their power, is now fully operational in Germany.
Five Scania R450s, each run by a different transport operator, are hauling freight on a route that includes a five-kilometre stretch of motorway near Frankfurt.
The Siemens-developed concept is the first of three German eHighways – the second also close to becoming fully operational and the third scheduled to be commissioned by the end of the year.
Proponents believe that such eHighways will be an essential measure to help meet tough exhaust emissions targets for trucks set by the European Parliament last year – demanding a 30% cut in carbon dioxide emissions from new trucks by 2030.
The diesel/electric hybrid trucks are able to connect their pantographs to the catenary power lines on the move, at any highway speed. 
While on the eHighway they can run at up to 90km/h with zero emissions, running off the eHighway’s power.
When they turn off the eHighway, they run on their own diesel/electric powertrains.
Data from the trucks running on the eHighways in the trials will help determine the feasibility and real-world benefits of the concept. 
Heinrich Kerstgens, co-MD of Contargo, one of the five companies participating in the trial, believes it is a worthwhile project: “If the feedback is positive, and if about one-third of the German motorway network is equipped with electrified catenary lines, in future approximately 80% of the heavy trucks registered in Germany will be able to operate in an electric mode using this technology. 
“That will make a really significant contribution to reducing carbon emission.”  
The Federation of German Industries recommends the construction of a 4000km  network of eHighways “as a cost-effective decarbonisation measure.”
Siemens says that investment could be recovered by just 11% of expected toll revenue from such eHighways – and believes that if the country’s busiest stretches of autobahns are electrified, operators would have the necessary economic incentive to switch 80% of Germany’s heavy trucks to the technology.
Siemens projects that a 30% takeup of Germany’s truck fleet with the necessary equipment to use the eHighways would result in seven million tonnes of CO2 savings a year.
The rumoured cost of the eHighway is an eyewatering one million Euros per kilometre of multi-lane motorway.  

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