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Sweden Opens World’s First Electric Highway

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Swedish electric highway

Image: Scania

A new electric milestone has been reached: over a 1.2-mile stretch of highway passing through the coastal Swedish town of Gävle, a criss-cross of electrical wiring marks the presence of a world first: the world’s first electric-truck-powering highway.

The electric cables run about 18 feet over the freeway, and are used to feed the trucks with electricity. As the trucks approach, they extend power-collecting antennas called pantogtaphs, exactly like a city tram, and use the energy collected to power the truck’s electric motors. Apparently, vehicles connected to the wires will be able to drive at speeds up to 55 mph. Then, when it is time for the truck to disconnect, the truck lowers the antenna and drives away under the power of its natural gas hybrid engine.

This system is the result of an extensive collaboration between Swedish vehicle manufacturer Scania and German tech company Siemens. Before being rolled out in an actual town, the system underwent extensive prototype testing at Siemens’ research and development facility outside Berlin.

Interested parties hope next to extend the lines to the industrial town of Borlänge, about 68 miles away. Magnus Ernström, project manager for the local government, explained that this project was implemented here because that stretch of road is heavily traveled by industries that need to transport goods, especially when the parallel-running train is full.

He also explains why the trucks are connected to a grid rather than powered by batteries: “Heavy traffic needs a lot of energy and you have to have a conductive technology if you want to run them on electricity today, that is; you need to have a connection between a wire and the system in the truck. If you would run a heavy truck on battery, it would need 20 tons of battery to transport maybe 30-40 tons of cargo, so you would not have so much room left for the cargo.”

The plan from here on is to test the electric highway for two years before making any decisions.

News Source: Truck Yeah! (Jalopnik Subblog)