Sweden, where trucks move like trams

Electric road hybrid truck, Scania G 360 4x2 (Hybrid Truck with Siemens pantograph on the roof) Gävle, Sweden Photo: Tobias Ohls 2016

Questo post è disponibile anche in: Italian

A video shows an eHighway experiment: tractor trailers are connected to a cable network through a pantograph.

From a distance (a long, long distance) they almost look like trams, while in fact, they are big trucks running along a highway. Above their heads, a pantograph – the mechanism that also drives trams – connects them to wires suspended over the road.

We are in Sweden and this is the electric highway, or eHighway, an experiment started in June on a 22 km stretch of the highway connecting the Swedish city of Gavle with the Norwegian capital Oslo. The experiment, which will carry on for two more years, is one of the initiatives planned by the Swedish government to definitively eliminate fossil fuels from the transport sector by 2030.

The project was developed by the German giant Siemens with two Scania hybrid trucks. The trucks’ pantograph is programmed to connect to the cable running above the road when the truck’s speed exceeds 90 km/h. While out of the highway, the truck moves with a regular Diesel engine. Siemens engineers are also working on the possibility for trucks to use small batteries and natural gas.

Transports are responsible for one third of Sweden’s CO2 emissions, and about half of this amount is due to the transportation of commercial goods. The Swedish government is trying to assess whether the eHighway would be a viable solution for trucks in order to reduce pollution.

“By far the greatest part of the goods transported in Sweden goes on the road, but only a limited part of the goods can be moved to other traffic types – said Anders Berndtsson, chief strategist at Sweden Transport Administration – That is why we must free the trucks from their dependence on fossil fuels, so that they can be of use also in the future. Electric roads offer this possibility and are an excellent complement to the transport system”.

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