Continental and Siemens Mobility’s partnership using eHighway technology will allow the truck overhead line system to enable electric charging while driving. With savings of up to 12 million tons of CO2 annually, the partnership will help bring trucks in line with the EU Regulation 2019/1242.
eHighway Technology Ready to Revolutionise Electrical Charging on the Go
Continental Engineering Services (CES) and Siemens Mobility will collaborate in the development and production of current collectors, known as pantographs for trucks across Europe. The initiative recommended by the German Ministry of Transport aims to electrify key sections of the highway network with an overhead line system to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from trucks, in line with EU regulation 2019/1242. The partnership combines the rail electrification specialism of Siemens Mobility and the sophisticated automotive technologies of Continental’s development and production services branch. With the two companies pooled resources, the aim is to achieve rapid volume production of current collectors, to provide widespread availability in Europe.
The eHighway technology supplies trucks with electric drives (e.g., hybrid, fuel cell, or battery-powered electric trucks) on heavily frequented stretches of the highway via an overhead cable. Trucks can be driven using 100% electrically-soured power while also charging their batteries without consuming fuel. Dr. Christoph Falk-Gierlinger, the Managing Director of CES, explained how this impacts the move towards sustainable transport, “We are transferring the principle of rail electrification to the road. The current collectors will be developed and produced in accordance with automotive standards. The partnership between Continental Engineering Services and Siemens Mobility is a major step toward climate-neutral freight transport.”
The eHighway technology developed by Siemens Mobility is already available to use today. Now, it is just a matter of developing the current collectors, especially for trucks, so that they can be offered to commercial vehicle manufacturers in the desired number of units at a cost-effective price. “Road haulage plays a central role in the battle against climate change,” says Michael Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility. “In Germany, it causes one-third of the transport sector’s CO2 emissions. Truck manufacturers are pursuing various concepts towards reduction. With the eHighway, Siemens Mobility has already created a ready-to-use technology for energy-efficient, cost-effective and emission-free truck traffic that can be combined with other drives. This may become the backbone for environmental protection in road haulage.”
Aim to Cover 4,000 Kilometres of German Interstate Highway by 2030
The key to the eHighway is that not all highway kilometres need to be electrified. The “National Platform for the Future of Mobility,” an innovation initiative of the Federal Ministry of Transport, recommends that 4,000 kilometres of highway be equipped with overhead cable technology by 2030. This is because approximately around two-thirds of fuel consumption by long-distance truck traffic on German highways takes place on the most frequently used 4,000 kilometres of the 13,000-kilometre-long network. By electrifying the core network and supplying electricity to the trucks driving there with electric drives (e.g. battery, hybrid, hydrogen), a huge and quick contribution to climate protection can be achieved. The solution with electricity from the overhead line corresponds to the rail principle, where only around 60 per cent of the rail network is equipped with overhead cables. However, these are the key sections, which means that more than 90 per cent of rail traffic in Germany rolls over the rails with electricity from the overhead line. According to a study by the Federal Ministry of Transport, the electrification of German road haulage on a core network of 4,000 kilometres could reduce CO2 emissions by 10 to 12 million tons annually when electricity is obtained from regenerative sources.
In Germany, the eHighway from Siemens Mobility is currently being tested on three public field trials. The routes are: the A5 interstate highway in Hesse between the junctions at Zeppelinheim/Cargo City Süd at Frankfurt Airport and Darmstadt/Weiterstadt, on the A1 in Schleswig-Holstein between the Reinfeld junction and the Lübeck intersection, and on the B462 federal highway in Baden-Württemberg between Kuppenheim and Gaggenau. CES and Siemens Mobility will then aim to make the truck overhead line system available across Europe. The Ministry of Transport in Germany and Digital Infrastructure supports the scaling of overhead lines for long-distance transport in innovation clusters and intends to implement large pilot plants by 2023.