Overhead electric lines that power buses and streetcars are a common sight in California cities and towns, and they could soon be expanding to highways. At the 26th annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles last week, Siemens unveiled the “eHighway of the Future,” a system of electric lines that would be used to power specially-designed hybrid trucks. The eHighway is currently being tested in Germany, and pilot projects are planed for Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The trucks that will be used in the tests will be hybrid diesel electric trucks, which will be equipped with technology that will enable them to connect to the electrified wires. The trucks will automatically switch to electric mode when they attach to the overhead lines, but when they drive off the grid to make a delivery, for example, they’ll be able to run on a diesel engine. The company says that once the technology becomes widely used, any truck, regardless of what type of engine it runs on, will be able to use the eHighway system.
Why did Siemens choose to tailor the system to trucks instead of passenger cars? Commercial trucks account for a large portion of the vehicle emissions in the US, and the amount of CO2 they produce is only expected to grow. “Freight transportation on U.S. roadways is expected to double by 2050, while global oil resources continue to deplete,” said Siemens Infrastructure & Cities CEO Daryl Dulaney, according to AutoNet.ca. ”And by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions are forecasted to jump 30 percent due to freight transport alone.”