First eHighway in Germany

Scania is taking part in a major trial of long haul electrified trucks powered by overhead wires on the UK’s motorways.

If the trial is successful it could see long haul electrified HGVs take to the UK’s major roads by the 2030s.

The trial, which is the first of its type in the UK, is being run by a consortium which includes Scania, Siemens Mobility, Costain, The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, ARUP, Milne Research, SPL Powerlines, CI Planning, Box Energi and Possible.

The nine-month study, starting this month, will use Siemens Mobility ‘eHighway’ technology which allows specially-adapted trucks to attach to the overhead wires and run using the electricity, similar to rail and trolley-bus systems. Truck operators have yet to be appointed to the trial.

Asked if the system could deal with double-deck trailers, which are common in the UK, Scania ERS truck manager Christer Thoren said: "Our consortium partners Siemens Mobility, who are responsible for the overhead wiring, traction power and pantographs fitted to the truck, are aware that there are differences in the UK transport mix to other parts of Europe, and one of these is an increase of height for the wires being required which they are confident the pantographs will accommodate. This will be reviewed in our study to ensure that there is an appropriate solution.”

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The trucks come equipped with a battery that charges while they are in motion so they can detach to both overtake vehicles and reach their final destination with zero emissions from start to finish.

The trial is being funded from a £20m pot of money set aside for zero emission road freight trials under the government’s recently-announced Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP).

James Armstrong, MD for Scania (Great Britain), said: "Electrifying road freight is key in the UK’s journey to zero net emissions. We have been working with our partners to develop and mature electric road technologies and have demonstrated that they are not only viable but attractive, cost-effective alternatives to fossil fuel-based vehicles for our customers.

“This partnership is dedicated to marrying technical excellence with visionary ambition, which is how we will achieve a practical and affordable electric roads system for the freight and logistics industry."