A Tiny Highway In Sweden Is Now Electrified

Pilot program for fossil-fuel free transport

Hybrid Diesel Electric Truck

Hybrid Diesel Electric Truck

When drawing power from the wires overhead, the truck doesn't emit any exhaust.Scania CV AB

For one and a quarter miles along the E16 highway in Sweden, north of Stockholm, the air above the road crackles with electricity. Using a catenary system similar to that used for trolleys, two diesel-hybrid trucks will drive cargo back and forth, as a trial case for low-emissions shipping. If successful, the system could be an easy way to adapt existing roads into greener, electric pathways.

Says Siemens, one of the companies operating the system:

Transport accounts for more than one third of Sweden's CO2 emissions, with almost half of that coming from freight transport. As part of its climate protection strategy, Sweden has committed to having a fossil fuel independent transport sector by 2030. Due to the expected growth in freight transport, road freight is set to grow even as rail capacity is increased. A solution to decarbonized road freight is therefore necessary. During the two-year trial, Sweden's Transport Administration Trafikverket and Gävleborg County want to create a knowledge base on whether the Siemens eHighway system is suitable for future long-term commercial use and further deployment.

The trucks can drive as fast as 55 mph while connected to the system, and because they are hybrid trucks, they can still deliver to places not connected to the electrical supports overhead. Which is good, because the trial system is, again, tiny: a 1.25-mile stretch of one highway.

There are plans for future tests. Working with Volvo, Siemens plans a test of a similar system spanning the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.