Even as major carmakers are working hard to overcome limitations of electric vehicles such as restricted ranges and relatively long charging times, the advances made are just about enough to make small passenger vehicles viable. Electrification of trucks and buses still remain a distant dream. However, rather than wait for genuine electric long-haul capabilities to be developed, the Swedish government, in partnership with major players from the private sector like Siemens and Scania, has come up with a more feasible solution; an electrified road. Yes, the world´s first electric road was officially opened recently near the city of Gävle in central Sweden.
As of now, only specially modified Scania G 360 4x2 9-tonne trucks can use the track, dubbed the e-way. Using conductive technology developed by Siemens, the trucks receive electrical power from overhead powerlines on the e-way through a pantograph power collector that is mounted on the frame behind its cab. The connection and disconnection procedures can be done easily even while the trucks are in motion, so once the truck exits the electrically-powered lane, the pantograph is automatically disconnected and the truck is then powered by the combustion engine or the battery- operated electric motor. This same procedure can be used by the driver if he wants to overtake another truck on the electric lane.
The G 360 features a biofuel-powered 9.0-litre, 360-horsepower parallel hybrid powertrain. Out of the electric highway, its 5.0-kilowatt-hour battery can only squeeze out enough juice for a three kilometre electric-only range.
“The electric road is one important milestone on the journey towards fossil-free transport. Scania is committed to the success of this project and is committed to sustainable transport solutions,” says Claes Erixon, Scania’s head of Research and Development. The Swedish truckmaker is optimistic that the electric road will play a major role in helping Sweden achieve its target of an energy-efficient and fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030. Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt, who is responsible for Scania’s research into electrification, adds, “The potential fuel savings through electrification are considerable and the technology can become a cornerstone for fossil-free road transport services.”