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Siemens today announced its 'eHighway of the Future' concept at the 26th Annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles. The eHighway concept is the electrification of trucks and select highway lanes via overhead electrified wires similar to how modern day trolleys or streetcars are powered on many city streets. The eHighway solution is an environmentally friendly, sustainable and efficient solution for today's truck transport. It will use less fossil fuels, substantially reduce CO2 emissions, reduce pollutant load in residential and agricultural areas, and, most importantly, will be very easy to integrate into existing highways and infrastructures.
"When most people think of vehicle emissions, they assume cars do most of the damage, but it's actually commercial trucks that are largely to blame," says Daryl Dulaney, CEO, Siemens Infrastructure & Cities, United States. "Freight transportation on U.S. roadways is expected to double by 2050, while global oil resources continue to deplete. And by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions are forecasted to jump 30 percent due to freight transport alone."
Siemens has developed the supporting technology necessary to make the eHighway a reality: infrastructure, software, hardware and drives. This technology compliments Siemens' extensive ELFA portfolio of the complete hybrid drive system. The ELFA traction hybrid drive systems enable personal and commercial vehicles to save over 30 percent in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Essentially, all that is needed is a hybrid diesel electric freight truck with built-in technology and software to connect to overhead electrified wires. The trucks are designed to use both electricity and diesel power and will automatically switch to electric mode when they detect and attach to the overhead lines. Once the truck leaves the lines, it switches back to diesel. As the technology becomes more widely adopted, the company believes every truck equipped with an electric drive system will be able to use the eHighway regardless if it's a diesel electric, pure battery, fuel cell range extended or CNG combustion engine vehicle.
"It's really about creating a more sustainable environment," Dulaney says. "Already more and more consumers are driving electric and hybrid vehicles. If we can get the commercial freight industry to come on board, we'll decrease emissions dramatically and improve sustainability."
Currently being tested in Germany, pilot projects are already being planned for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to connect to cargo centers. The technology also can also be expanded to allow trucks to travel through densely populated cities.