Germany is testing overhead wires to charge hybrid semi trucks on the Autobahn

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

The system, developed by Siemens Mobility, is said to combine the advantages of electrified rail lines with the flexibility of road freight transport. When connected to an overhead line, the truck’s diesel engine turns off and it is powered entirely by its electric motor. Onboard batteries are also charged by the 670-volt overhead cables.

When the truck detaches from the cables, it switches back to diesel power or uses reserves stored in the batteries.

Siemens’ eHighway was demonstrated in California in late 2017.

The pilot has already cost the government more than 14 million euros ($15.7 million) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety has allocated more than 70 million euros for the development of overhead line hybrid trucks.

Testing will continue through 2022 at which time a decision will have to be made regarding the project’s future. As New Atlas highlights, it would take a significant amount of time and money to build electric highways at a scale that would be useful. Even then, it’s unclear if such a system would be better than standalone electric vehicles like those from Tesla.

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psycros

TS Evangelist
Large universal batteries similar to what fork trucks have are the best solution. You roll into a service station and park over top of a garage pit. A robot yanks the dead batteries off the bottom of your vehicle and sticks charged ones in its place. The bigger your motor the more batteries you'd have, but they would all be the same size and shape. You're on your way in a couple minutes. Home battery swapping could be done fairly easily with some ramps and a customized rolling hydraulic jack.
 
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Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
The thing with overhead wires is that they'e susceptible to weather damage - and if one line goes out, it tends to short out the entire system. Also, having all that electricity overhead often kills radio and cell reception...

We have that problem in downtown Toronto with our Streetcars...

Not to mention they are quite ugly. If there was some way to put everything underground instead, that would be ideal - of course, that would be far more difficult and costly.

I agree with the above poster that hot-swapping batteries would be a far better solution.
 

lambda

TS Rookie
>As New Atlas highlights, it would take a significant amount of time and money to build electric highways at a scale that would be useful.
Where in the source does it say that?

>Even then, it’s unclear if such a system would be better than standalone electric vehicles like those from Tesla.
[citation needed]

Currently electric vehicles have the disadvantage of having a low reach, I.e. the battery needs to be recharged after some amount of kilometers.
Overhead lines would allow for long-distance transport.
I'm not sure if exchanging batteries would be more economical because you would need very large batteries for trucks to drive long distances and that would reduce their payload.
 

bluetooth fairy

TS Booster
Throuput is way better than the regular charging, I suppose. Even if you somehow have managed 5,500 kg Tesla truck battery replacement at the special charge station. While the Tesla Semi receives a lot of scepticism during its prototype life cycle, Siemens implements their machinery in demo mode since 2015.

But tbh "ugly" isn't the right word for eHighway trucks. Maybe "scary" is?
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
It's certainly not a new concept BUT it could do a lot for the hydrocarbons produced by "the biggest truck fleet in the world". Ugly? Yeah, no doubt about it but if we are going to get away from fossil fuels something has got to give ....
 

Ravey

TS Addict
If motorways were not dangerous enough! I'm not sure about this idea... What happens if a Line gets blown down and lands on other vehicles? I know it's not a very likely scenario, but still...
 

Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
If motorways were not dangerous enough! I'm not sure about this idea... What happens if a Line gets blown down and lands on other vehicles? I know it's not a very likely scenario, but still...
Cars are designed like Airplanes in this respect, the metal body is designed as ground. It would be very hard for someone in the car to actually get hurt.
 

Ravey

TS Addict
Cars are designed like Airplanes in this respect, the metal body is designed as ground. It would be very hard for someone in the car to actually get hurt.
Oh yes I get that a car is basically a faraday cage.. I was thinking more that large power cables falling onto a busy stretch of road is going to create an extremely dangerous situation.
 

Ean Mogg

TS Booster
Wouldn't it be easier to put charging coils into the road but at a hundred metres or more if you had a flywheel attached to the charger in the vehicle by the the time the flywheel slowed down it will get another kick from the coils in the ground and depending on the charging flywheel like from cars to trucks it will be like trickle charge on the go, which should increase your journey time by small to large depending on where the charging coils are with the flywheel charging unit in the vehicle,,,
 

xxLCxx

TS Addict
Wouldn't it be easier to put charging coils...
Again, it is not meant for charging (Dunno where that came from - bad translation?).
The idea is that they drive autonomously (one day) and electric on the highways - one day. The batteries are very small. They are merely to ride out contact issues (like big capacitors do in your computer).
The whole project is so stupid that it can only exist, because of state financing (call it corruption).
 

Ean Mogg

TS Booster
Again, it is not meant for charging (Dunno where that came from - bad translation?).
The idea is that they drive autonomously (one day) and electric on the highways - one day. The batteries are very small. They are merely to ride out contact issues (like big capacitors do in your computer).
The whole project is so stupid that it can only exist, because of state financing (call it corruption).
Didn't realise duh!! lol