The eHighway concept

The concept

eHighway turns the future of electric-driven freight transport into reality. The concept for the electrification of road-freight traffic has three core components:

  • Diesel-electric hybrid technology

  • Power supply via catenary lines and regenerative braking

  • Intelligently controllable pantograph for energy transmission

In normal operation, eHighway HGVs draw electric energy from a catenary system using an adaptive pantograph to establish contact with the overhead wire. Wherever there is no overhead line, the eHighway HGVs automatically switch over to their diesel-hybrid drive system. This means that they can be used just as flexibly and universally as conventional HGVs.

More advantages at a glance

  • Easy to install: system can be seamlessly integrated in the existing infrastructure.

  • Environmentally friendly: no emission of CO2, nitrogen oxides, soot

  • Efficient: vehicles can exchange energy via the catenary system

  • Economical: electric motors are very durable and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels

Energy supply

Modern catenary systems ensure the reliable power supply of the eHighway HGVs. They are designed as two-pole systems for two-way electricity transmission.

The overhead wire is fed from a container substation. The substation used at our testing site is equipped with:

  • Medium-voltage DC switching system

  • Power transformer

  • Rectifier 12-diode array

  • Controlled inverter (for the feedback of the electric energy generated by the vehicles’ regenerative braking)


An intelligent pantograph is used for direct transmission of electric power from the overhead wire to the eHighway HGV. The actively controllable pantograph can be easily connected to and disconnected from the overhead line - at speeds of up to 90 km/h. Depending on operating mode, connection is made either automatically or manually at the push of a button. Another advantage of this flexible system is the automatic compensation for any shifts in position within the lane. Moreover, the mobility of the pantograph minimizes the risk of selective wear on the current collector, substantially extending its useful life.

Hybrid drive

On electrified routes, eHighway HGVs are powered via the overhead lines, but they are also fitted with hybrid drive systems: in the HGV specially converted for our development project this was a serial diesel hybrid; but the eHighway concept provides ample scope for a variety of hybrid drive technologies. The essential main components that were tried and proven in our tests were:

  • Generator

  • Rectifier

  • Buffer store

  • Inverter

  • Traction motor

On highways and roads without catenary systems, the diesel engine’s output is transmitted to the generator, which in turn powers the downstream electric motor turning the cardan shaft.