Electric-highway test for freight haulers starts in Sweden

ehighway sweden electric highway
Siemens AG/Scania AB
The world’s freight moves via trucks. Even when goods are flown or shipped in containers around the world, delivery to the end of the supply chain is by truck. And while the carbon footprint for a freight-hauling truck is much greater than any car, SUV, or small truck, so far no one has presented a green solution for large trucks.

When Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler during its recent TecDay issued statements about the absolute need to electrify cars, light trucks, and even city buses, it stated that there was no plan in place for trucks. It’s easy to say, “Just add batteries, like with cars,” but the battery mass and weight to haul around 4,000 to 6,000 pounds of vehicle and passengers in a typical car or light truck pales in comparison to what it would take to move a tractor trailer with 80,000 pounds of freight over long distances. So the solution for “greening-up” trucks has remained an unsolved challenge.

Swedish firms Siemens and Scania are testing an electrical system with the potential for solving at least part of the big truck/big carbon question. German Siemens AG and Swedish heavy-vehicle maker Scania AB have teamed up to test the world’s first e-highway in central Sweden, according to CleanTech Canada.

The test route, which runs for 2 km (about 1.2 miles) uses an overhead wire system called a catenary that provides electrical power. The system is similar to those you might see in some U.S. cities to power trolley cars or electric trains. A device called a pantograph mounted on the roof of the truck moves up and down to automatically maintain a connection to the overhead wires.

Siemens designed the wire system and Scania adapted two trucks with a diesel-hybrid drive capable of running on electric power from the overhead grid when available and automatically switching to diesel power when they move off the overhead grid. The Siemens/Scandia system design lets the trucks switch connections and maintain speeds up to 90 kph (55 miles per hour). Hybrid systems will be imperative during the transformation from fossil fuel to all-electric trucks.

Sweden has pledged to transform its transportation system to run fossil fuel- and emissions-free by 2030, and like the rest of the world depends on trucks. “By far the greatest part of the goods transported in Sweden goes on the road, but only a limited part of the goods can be moved to other traffic types,” said Anders Berndtsson, chief strategist at the Swedish Transport Administration. “That is why we must free the trucks from their dependence on fossil fuels, so that they can be of use also in the future … Electric roads offer this possibility and are an excellent complement to the transport system,” he added.

Siemens is also planning another e-highway test route in California in 2017, the company said.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

From home theater to home studio, these are the best speakers you can buy

Whether you’re looking for a spiffy surround sound setup or a small system to listen to Spotify, a great pair of speakers can make all the difference. These are the best speakers in all shapes and sizes.
Computing

Russian hackers behind ‘world’s most murderous malware’ probing U.S. power grid

A hacking group linked to the Russian government has attempted to breach the U.S. power grid. Security experts tracked the hackers, and warn that they were probing the grid for weaknesses.
Cars

Volvo has created an autonomous truck that looks like a sports car

Volvo’s autonomous truck, called Vera, is about to start work at a Swedish port. The vehicle has a modest top speed of 25 mph and features a striking design that makes it look as if the usual cab has been swapped for a sports car.
Product Review

The last American midsize plug-in hybrid is being squeezed out of existence

The 2019 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid can’t catch a break. Ford is planning to discontinue production next year, but looming tariffs could spell doom for an otherwise comfortable and very economically sensible sedan.
Cars

Kia draws inspiration from Greek mythology to create a crossover for millennials

Kia will expand its global portfolio of crossovers and SUVs when it unveils a model named Seltos on June 20, 2019. Developed for milennials, the Seltos is a small, high-tech model named after the son of Hercules.
Cars

Don’t let the SUV bodies fool you, BMW’s X3 M and X4 M are bona fide M cars

BMW is launching the first M versions of its X3 and X4. The 2020 X3 M and X4 M Competition pack a new 503-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six and BMW’s usual array of performance tech.
Cars

After years of Le Mans misfortune, Toyota becomes impossible to beat

Toyota scored a one-two finish at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans, its second win a row at the legendary French race. Toyota is the first Japanese automaker to win Le Mans twice, but its wins came without any real competition.
Cars

Uber drivers reportedly triggering higher fares through Surge Club

Uber drivers are reportedly participating in a so-called Surge Club to artificially trigger higher fares. Many drivers said that they do not want to join the shady practice, but they are forced to do so due to pay cuts.
Cars

Intel hates that your car is dumber than your phone. Here’s how they’ll fix it

Motorists are often underwhelmed and/or frustrated with their car's native infotainment system, so millions of them rely on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Intel is helping Google and Volvo change that by bringing phone-like tech to the…
Cars

Fisker wants to make sure Tesla’s Model Y isn’t in a class of one when it lands

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Cars

Could a high-performance Nissan Leaf steal the mighty GT-R’s lunch money?

Nissan developed the electric Leaf with range and practicality in mind, but the hatchback could lend its hardware to a high-performance flagship. One of Nissan's chief executives announced a four-motor, 850-hp model could arrive during the…
Cars

Forget turrets. Hummer could fight its next war in the electric SUV segment

General Motors is considering resurrecting the Hummer brand it axed in 2010 to make electric off-roaders. The plan hasn't been approved yet, and it risks alienating some die-hard Hummer fans, but it makes sense on several levels.
Cars

This futuristic driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas

Pizza delivery using driverless pods is about to become a thing. Domino's has partnered with autonomous-tech specialist Nuro to use the futuristic pods for a trial delivery service starting later this year.