Travel restrictions are slowing down the electric highway

Almost a year after the start of the first German electric highway in southern Hesse, not everything is going according to plan on the test track. The Corona crisis is currently to blame for this. Four of the five overhead line hybrid trucks should actually be on the test route between Langen and Weiterstadt by now, but only two of the special trucks are still collecting data for the multi-year trial. In addition, the five-kilometer test track in one direction is out of order after an accident in January. The reason: the travel restrictions due to the risk of infection with the corona virus.

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"The two vehicles are already in Germany and have successfully completed the first tests," said Frauke Werner from the project management authority Hessen Mobil of the German Press Agency. However, delivery to the shipping companies will be delayed due to the current crisis situation. The trucks are built at the Volkswagen subsidiary Scania in Sweden. "The employees of Scania have not been allowed to travel for a few weeks and currently neither the last necessary vehicle tests nor driver training can be carried out." A shift of several weeks can be expected.

Due to an accident at the end of January, the test track in one direction was also out of order. Of course, this has an impact on the scope of the test drives. "The repair of the plant damaged in the accident is delayed because the repair work cannot be carried out by the special teams due to travel restrictions," said Werner. The number of daily test drives is therefore also limited. The first test results would probably also be postponed. "The consortium is examining ways to increase the number of trips after the situation has normalized so that the field trial can be carried out as planned over the entire trial period."

Since the beginning of May last year, trucks on the route have been able to dock with a pantograph to an overhead line and fill up with electricity. So the batteries are charged at full speed. Effects on traffic, ecological and economic aspects and the additional effort for the road maintenance departments are to be examined. Based on the initial coordination of project planning, the state government assumed that the field trial could begin in full with the completion of the test track.

The Federal Environment Ministry financed the five-kilometer route between Langen and Weiterstadt with almost 14.6 million euros. Another 15 million euros are to flow into data collections and evaluations. By 2022, five hybrid trucks with pantographs (OH trucks) are to collect data on the line with overhead lines. This is intended to explore how environmentally friendly goods can be transported in the future. A second test track is now underway in Schleswig-Holstein.

Nationwide, the electric highway project is funded by the federal government with around 107 million euros. The federal taxpayers fear that this model will never be used across the board because the technology is very expensive and it also competes with other technologies.

Scania has been cooperating with Siemens for the development of overhead line trucks since September 2014. Here one drives on the eHighway test track in Groß Dölln.
(Photo: Siemens)

This sees one Study by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Heidelberg different. According to this, overhead line trucks could be economically attractive as early as 2030. The emissions of carbon dioxide could be halved compared to pure diesel trucks if it were possible to build a 3200 km long overhead line network on particularly busy sections of the motorway. The institute estimates that the network will cost seven billion euros over the next ten years.


. (tagsToTranslate) data collection (t) electric highway (t) Hessen (t) overhead line truck (t) Scania (t) test track