Scania's electrically powered overhead truck , Source: Gustav Lindh, Scania CV AB

Electric overhead-line trucks are coming to Germany

Electric overhead-line trucks are coming to Germany

The pilot route has been unveiled in the Murg Valley near Rastatt

The main road in the Murg Valley, near the city of Rastatt, has become an electrically powered hybrid catenary truck route. The eWayBW project started on 28 July 2021 and will run for the next three years with the aiming to test out climate-friendly technology. It was unveiled by Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry, and Winfried Hermann, the Transport Minister of Baden-Württemberg.

18 electrifying kilometres

The route is a pilot project for electrically operated hybrid overhead-line trucks (HGVs).

In simple terms, this means trucks that are equipped with a catenary - a U shaped conductor connected to two points that link to the power grid lines. It is a familiar technology since some trams and trains use the same mechanism.

Trucks travelling the eWayBW route will not only be operating on electrical power during its 18 kilometres, but they will also be able to recharge their batteries, helping them sustain longer routes.

Currently, the capacity of a lithium-ion battery powering an electric vehicle is around 200 km. However, at this time the overhead power lines cover less than a quarter of the route.

Being realistic about the impact and usage

Accompanying scientific research will focus on aspects of energy supply as well as effects on noise, air pollutants and road planning measures.

Federal Highway 462 in the Murgtal was chosen for the pilot project because every year 510,000 tons of paper are brought to a logistics centre in the town of Kuppenheim in the Rhine valley for three manufacturing companies. As a result, freight trucks are coming in and out day and night, seven days a week.

The implementation of hybrid catenary trucks to cover the nearly 250,000 kilometres travelled per year will have a massive impact. These conditions also provide a controlled testing ground for accompanying research.

State Secretary Schwarzelühr-Sutter remarked that there must be more freight traffic on rails, however, the limited reach of the train network forces policymakers to look for sustainable alternatives in road transportation.

Minister Hermann backed her up, adding that the fact that the energy on the power lines is coming from the Schwarzenbach Dam makes the project even better.

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