eHighway – Electrification of road freight transport

Road freight transport powered by electricity: Siemens’ eHighway system combines the efficiency of electrified railroads with the flexibility of trucks into an innovative freight traffic solution that is efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly.

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Road freight facts

What is the best strategy to climate-friendly road freight transportation?

Even under ambitious scenarios to shift goods transport to electrified rail, road freight is expected to grow in absolute terms and remain the biggest source of CO2 from freight. We all depend on trucks for goods and services we need in our daily lives. But 24% of global CO2 emissions are caused by transportation, and road freight transport plays a considerable role in these emissions. As we aim to cut emissions by 65% in Germany by 2030, and reach carbon neutrality in Europe by 2045, it is imperative to examine strategies that will contribute to significantly lower emissions in the transportation sector.

 

Siemens Mobility is conducting a comparison of technology concepts to reduce CO2 emissions in long-haul trucking, assessing the advantages and disadvantages in terms of economic and environmental impact by evaluating eight criteria: Operational Range, Time to Market, Scalability & Resource Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Total Cost of Ownership, Flexibility, and CO2 Abatement Cost. Let’s take a look at the facts.

The logistics industry has an average daily mileage of 750 km, and today’s diesel trucks have a range of up to 2,300 km. Long-haul journeys above 500km almost exclusively are driven on highways. Interestingly, 89% of German trucks only drive 50 km or fewer when leaving the highway roads.

 

Our eHighway solution enables unlimited operational range within the infrastructure. Overhead contact line (OCL) trucks are equipped with a battery for additional electric range outside of the OCL infrastructure. In comparison, 40-ton Battery-electric trucks (BEV) have a maximum range of 200 km, Fuel-Cell Electric trucks (FCEV) have good potential for long-haul trucking, and trucks powered by Renewable Fuels (RF) have about the same range as conventional combustion engine trucks.

Reaching the ambitious CO2 emission goals for long-haul trucking requires a quick roll-out of proven technologies. Several alternative drives and fuel systems are in the works, but which technology can deliver the required impact in time?

 

The Siemens Mobility eHighway solution is based on mature technology and more than 100 years of overhead contact line (OCL) experience. The system has established supply chains and open standards. It can be implemented immediately to make a valuable contribution to reducing emissions in long-haul trucking.

 To achieve the necessary CO2 reductions in time, it’s not enough for a technology to be available now: It also has to be possible to scale up quickly so that intermediate goals can be met: for example,70 percent of new semi-truck sales in 2030.

 

This challenge is one of “scalability,” and it depends on factors like the capabilities of the supply chains and the degree to which these capabilities can be quickly channeled into a rapid transformation of the road freight sector.

Closely related to the issue of scaling is the availability of natural resources. Especially during rapid growth in material demand, there’s a risk of supply bottlenecks that could hinder a timely, large-scale implementation.

It’s logical that the less energy needed, the better – for the economy and the environment. Decarbonizing road freight using alternative drive trains like fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) or using renewable fuels (RFs) come with significant inefficiencies in production, transportation, storage, and distribution.

 

Hybrid trucks and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that are connected to overhead contact lines (OCLs) are the most energy-efficient, with well-to-wheel efficiency of around 73 percent. This offers distinct advantages over alternative fuels that are produced synthetically with renewable electricity

In the decarbonization of long-haul freight transport total cost of ownership (TCO) is a crucial criterion for businesses adopting new technologies. In road freight the TCO is heavily influenced by the cost of energy costs, but also the cost of the vehicle plays a major role. The cost of the new infrastructure is comparatively low, where the level of utilization is sufficiently high, as would be the case on busy corridors.

 

The Siemens eHighway solution has an expected utilization level similar to that of an existing highway. This, combined with the high energy efficiency and associated low cost of energy, yields strong operational savings. As trucks using the overhead contact lines (OCL) need less batteries, their acquisition cost is also comparatively low. High savings and low costs, makes it the most economical solution on the busy routes where most of the freight transport takes place.

Road freight forwarders face growing demands in areas like fuel costs, technology implementation, and sustainability. Shifting road freight to transport modes with lower carbon emissions is a complex undertaking that requires enormous flexibility in both approach and solution.

 

Overhead contact line (OCL) infrastructure is an upgrade of existing highways and provides truckers with a high degree of flexibility and security, including power supply for non-electrified routes. Adapting to OCL can take place one step at a time to meet growing demand and accommodate fleet management issues.

To meet the emission goals in the transportation sector, the most energy efficient and resource efficient solution needs to be implemented. Only a holistic approach will be able to accelerate a successful transition away from carbon-based transport, and that includes the full abatement cost of CO2.

 

Electrification is a proven, scalable option with lower abatement costs that takes advantage of existing infrastructures and technologies. Overhead contact lines (OCL) have been found to offer the lowest CO2 abatement cost for 40-ton tractor trucks in 2030. It also helps other alternative drive technologies overcome their main obstacles for wider adoption by offering dynamic charging.

Our vision is of a transport system which can operate without any greenhouse gas or exhaust emissions, thereby sustaining the health of people and our planet. It does this in a far more economical way than today, by using less energy, less resources, and less time, which creates better economic opportunities for local communities and companies. This is achieved by a heavy goods vehicle fleet with relatively small batteries, supplied with renewable energy from static chargers on routes with little traffic and from overhead catenary cables providing dynamic charging on the core motorways, where practically all the long-distance driving takes place.

 

Best of all, the technologies which are necessary in order to implement this vision already exist today and can easily be scaled up in time to achieve the necessary impacts, not least by remaining within the CO2 budget by 2030.

We welcome the fact that more and more countries support this vision and, in an initial step, are pursuing large pilot projects in order to demonstrate the important and practical benefits of electrified heavy goods vehicles using a combination of static charging and dynamic charging.

 

As all 3 components (Batterie electric vehicles, high-power chargers and overhead contact line) are scaled up, they will be mutually reinforcing: Batterie electric vehicles will be more quickly adopted by haulage companies when they see that operations both on the busy motorways as well as in a geographically spread-out area are possible, easy and reliable. The infrastructure operators will also benefit from a rapid rise in batterie electric vehicles. This will trigger a self-reinforcing spiral and accelerate the implementation of an electrified transportation system.

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eHighway

Reduce truck operating costs and emissions

Implementing eHighway on the core highways creates a backbone solution for energy efficient, low cost, zero emission trucking that is complementary with other drive trains, fuels and transportation technology trends (e.g. automated or high-capacity vehicles). The eHighway system is applicable for various use cases.

Shuttle transport

Heavily-used truck routes, for example from ports to freight and distribution centers, are often a burden on the environment. In these situations, the eHighway system produces a significant reduction in pollutant and CO2 emissions. At the same time, the economic benefits of the system are felt particularly quickly on these high-use routes.

  • Solution for high frequency shuttle transport over short and medium distances (< 50 km), i.e. in ports or industrial areas
  • Lower fuel consumption and longer lifetime
  • Reduction of air and noise pollution

Electrified freight transport in mines

The eHighway is an ideal way to connect pits and mines with warehouses, transshipment points or processing plants. The economic benefits of the eHighway system can be easily calculated on the basis of transport volumes. At the same time, the eHighway system significantly reduces environmental pollution and dependence on fossil fuels.

  • Connection of pits and mines to storage or transit locations
  • Minimization of harmful emissions
  • Sustainable, clean and economical mine operation

Electrified long-haul traffic

The eHighway system is based on a safe and proven infrastructure to provide a continuous energy supply to heavy commercial vehicles. It can be integrated and operated within the existing road infrastructure without significant effort and combines the efficiency of electrified railroads with the flexibility of trucks, halving energy consumption while maintaining full mobility. The eHighway system enables trucks to use renewable energy and can contribute significantly to reducing CO2 emissions. Both the ecological and economic advantages of the eHighway system grow with increased use of the route.

  • Economical and sustainable alternative for road freight transport
  • Significant reduction of CO2 emissions
  • Substantial cost savings for freight carriers

How eHighway works

eHighway. Benefits and highlights:

  • Innovative freight traffic solution
  • Combines efficiency of electified railroads with flexibility of trucks
  • Economical and environmentally friendly
  • Applicable for various use cases: Shuttle transport, Electrified freight transport in mines, Electrified long-haul traffic
  • Consists of three core elements: the energy supply, the pantograph, and hybrid drive technology

eHighway is part of the clean truck technology mix promoted by the German Transport Ministry

Downloads and Support

Learn more about eHighway

Tune in to the podcast with Roland Edel, CTO of Siemens Mobility.

Learn about Roland’s vision of the eHighway and why electrified systems are the key to achieve a sustainable society.
References

eHighway

The eHighway system is twice as efficient as conventional internal combustion engines. The Siemens innovation supplies trucks with power from an overhead contact line – and is already used in Sweden and the USA.
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eHighway from Siemens

Siemens’ eHighway system combines the efficiency of electrified railroads with the flexibility of trucks into an innovative freight traffic solution that is efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly.

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