Car buyers are starting to get used to the idea of electric vehicles, but the dream of all-electric commercial trucks seems so much farther away. Adding heavy batteries to already-heavy trucks is going to kill efficiency and drive up charging times and costs. Siemens and Scania may have a way around that though, borrowing a century-old means of powering trolleys as a way of making electric trucks financially and functionally feasible.
The Gävle Electric Road project has been approved by Sweden’s national government to further test the viability of powering electric commercial trucks using overhead transmission lines. The Siemens-developed technology has been in the works with Scania since 2013, though these trucks aren’t entirely electric powered. Once the truck disconnects from the overhead electricity lines, a diesel-hybrid drivetrain takes over, allowing the vehicle to complete its journey no matter where the final destination may be.
Siemens has been testing a similar system between the California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with the idea that these vehicles can run solely on cheap electricity 90% of the time, while eliminating the need for costly and heavy battery packs. Of course that’s assuming the infrastructure of overhead power lines is cheaper, which in the long term and limited quantities, may be true. But long-hauling across Wyoming or Kansas, just on electricity? That’s a dream that still far, far away friends.