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Siemens Corp., a global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering, is introducing what it calls the "eHighway of the future", a concept that involves the electrification of trucks and select highway lanes via overhead electrified wires similar to those of modern day trolleys or streetcars 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, be easy to integrate into existing highways and infrastructures.
"When most people think of vehicle emissions they assume cars to most of the damage, but it's commercial trucks that are largely to blame," says Daryl Dulaney, CEO, Siemens Infrastructure and Cities, U.S.
"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 says it has the solution and has already developed the the supporting technology necessary to make the eHighway a reality: infrastructure, software, hardware and drives.
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 atttach 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."
The eHighway and electrified trucks are currently being tested in Germany and pilot projects are being planned for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to connect to cargo centers. The technology can also be expanded to allow trucks to travel through densely populated cities.