Scania To Test Electric Trucks On Electric Roads

JUL 2 2015 BY MARK KANE 26

Scania truck fitted with a pantograph developed by Siemens

Scania truck fitted with a pantograph developed by Siemens

Scania announced a real-life test project on Gävle Electric Road of electrically powered trucks using pantograph developed by Siemens. The key difference to all-electric truck is of course there no need for a huge battery pack, but instead there is need for a catenary system and one standard to use it.

For about $15 million Scania will build a two-kilometer test route between the Port of Gävle and Storvik along European highway 16 in Sweden, which should be ready in February 2016.

The truck itself will be some kind of hybrid, which can operate without power from the grid.

This will be the first tests on public road after a few years of trials in a research facility outside Berlin.

“Power to the trucks is transferred from overhead lines through a pantograph power collector mounted on the frame behind the cab. This technology has been developed by Siemens, which since 2013 has conducted trials of electrified trucks together with Scania at its research facility outside Berlin.

The possibility of operating heavy trucks using electricity in this way means that the truck’s flexibility to perform transport tasks using electricity and as a regular hybrid truck is maintained, while up to 80-90 percent of the fossil fuel emissions disappear. Operating costs will be low as much less energy is required due to the efficiency of the electric engine, while electricity is a cheaper source of energy than diesel.”

“Participants in the Gävle Electric Roads project include Gävleborg Region, Siemens and Scania as well as Boliden, SSAB, Sandvik, Stora Enso, Ernst Express, Midroc Elektro, Sandviken Energi, the Port of Gävle, Gävle Energi and the Stockholm School of Economics. The Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish National Electrical Safety Board and the Swedish Transport Agency have also collaborated closely with the project.”

Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt, who is responsible for Scania’s research in this field, said:

“The potential fuel savings though electrification are considerable and the technology can become a cornerstone for fossil-free road transport services. Electric roads are also a way to develop more eco-friendly transport services by using the existing road network.”

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26 Comments on "Scania To Test Electric Trucks On Electric Roads"

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Well, there is a more efficient system still: use electrified railroads for the bulk of the way and an electric truck for the last couple of miles. Re-vitalising railroads ought to be cheaper then electrifying all major motorways.


I’d even argue that you don’t need full size electric tractor trailers either. You can get a way with medium duty “UPS sized” electric vehicles for the “last mile.”

The experienced labor is the one of the single highest cost when it comes to transportation, thus you want one driver to drive as much cargo as possible, which means the bigger the truckload the higher efficiency from your labor cost.

If they are going to spend public money on something like this they should first spend the money to extend the 25Hz electric Amtrak system on the Northeast Corridor down to Florida first. They should also extend the Amtrak catenary to Chicago.

But I think they should bring back streetcar interurbans first in that the interurbans did stuff like this all the time.

You’ve referred to “they” 4 times…. Who are “they”? And where do “they” get their fundIng?

All of those things should be done. We shouldn’t have to make a choice or prioritize any of those things.

If we’re talking real transportation energy efficiency (and overall transportation efficiency) then you get considerably greater efficiency with freight rail electrification, and faster speeds, as compared to passenger rail electrification (and higher speeds).

Blending in electric railways as you state is definitely the lowest energy consumption approach.

But railways do suffer from two major problems:

First, the roadways are publicly subsidised whereas rail track is not, especially in North America. That cost burden of maintaining your own right of way reduces rail competivness for anything that can be shipped easily by truck.

Second, the transshipment inefficiency for converting between modes is costly in terms of labor and equipment. It’s affordable when transhipping high value products like cars, but harder to justify for everything else. Intermodal systems are inherently inefficient, for example trucking a shipping container is inefficient and a trailer on a rail car is inefficient. Intermodal technology is a constant challenge for the railways to be competitive.

We still live in a world where cost drives solutions, and energy efficiency only counts if the net savings are real.

Ummm, I don’t know what you’re talking about but the major railroad companies still get quite a bit of subsidies for many of their rail improvement projects. In 2007, Virginia had committed to giving Norfolk Southern $40 million for a rail corridor improvement project, and that was before NS even asked for money. And that is just one of the governments NS was going to hit up for cash!

This news post from 2007 talks about all of the subsidies NS was getting from various governments for its projects back then (don’t know what ever came of them though):

Should be funny to see these hybrids changing lanes, with the pantograph going down and all cars trying to get by before the lane change happens.

What a ******g stupid idea. Not only are you going to have unsightly cables above roads – which provide their own hazard in maintenance during weather, maintenance if someone crashes into them, but generally in a decade or two battery technology will be so good that trucks can rely solely on batteries alone, and we’d have the remnants of a redundant cable structure hanging above roads!


I wouldn’t bank on the battery improvements being viable for long-haul trucking in a decade or two, however I’m with you on this being a bad idea.

I’m just curious as to how much current would be going into those wires when there’s a caravan of over 5 trucks going down the road way? Do they take turns to limit the number of kilowatts going through the catenary, or do they increase the number of feeder stations to reduce the load on each segment?

“…unsightly cables above roads…”

God forbid, I too prefer the smell of fresh diesel fumes in the morning, accompanied by a healthy dose of low frequency noise. 😉

My guess is these cables are only there for the most important motorways, which are already an eyesore in the landscape. A cable does not measurably increase the level of unsighltiness.

This would have been a good idea hundred years ago when lead acid was obviously not able to the task, but today it is actually giving a reserve indication that we could soon have trains getting of the wire by relying on batteries instead. They did that already in the UK with an electric train replacing a diesel train on a non electrified track.

How retro. This obviously is not the future of transportation.


I find your statement of the obvious refreshing. 🙂

Inbeded inductive feeder would have been a better project.
But train of course could very well use more of those and carry most of the bulk.
How to turn someting good into horrible is sometimes all people can do.
Fossil fuel as to go off, but there’s better way of doing it.

In india we have this service where trucks filled with goods. are loaded on to trains for major chunk of their journey and are offloaded for the final part of the destination.

Why not tried and true old tech?

Cutting a slot down the middle of the lane is inexpensive to install, far less materials and not intrusive. Why is no one trying this?

Haha. I like your out-of-the-(match)box thinking.

Goodbye Siemens, hello Volvo. Now this is what I’m talking about:

@jmollard you have right. Overhead lines are not needed (they look bad, are expensive, and so on… ) it is a well proven technology for urban trams that they get electricity from a bottom rail see Alstom APS bottom rail power system. (Alimentation Par le Sol )

And if you add an extra leading rail for a short distance (20minute travel time) , too, you have a self-driving system, which can charge an electric car battery in motion, see our patent: Facebook “Fast-charge in motion”

I would much rather have induction coils in the road surface instead

Maybe for new highways or city intersections, but far too expensive to retrofit existing highways. Also induction is less efficient.

It has an energy transport efficiency of an induction cooker (60-80%) … But you are able to melt snow with it on winter roads, haha… (de-iceing). It is horrible expensive. Traditional sliding metal surface has an efficiency of ~98% and cheap.

Siemens is also planning to build one of these running from the port of Long Beach to the port of Los Angeles. Overhead catenary system similar to old time trollies, like the perfectly good trollies that Standard Oil and GM conspired to rip out decades ago, to be replaced with diesel buses.

Aaahh……. Progress

There are a number of articles about this.
Here’s a link to the LA Times:

Our patent is very similar, but no overhead lines+a leading rail for “self-driving”… Overhead power line kills birds, aesthetically not too nice, expensive… On the other hand, overhead lines are not needed, a bottom power rail is better solution, see Alstom APS bottom rail system… More info on our patent: Fast-charge at motion for electric cars