Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Siemens building e-highway to link German cities

Steve Rogerson
August 22, 2017

The German state of Hesse is building an overhead contact line for electrified freight transport on a 10km stretch of autobahn. The line, based on an idea from Siemens, will supply electricity for the electric drive of hybrid lorries.
Siemens originally presented its e-highway concept in 2012. The system will be installed on the A5 federal autobahn between the Zeppelinheim and Cargo City Süd interchange at Frankfurt Airport and the Darmstadt and Weiterstadt interchange.
"With the e-highway, we've created an economically viable solution for climate-neutral freight transport by road," said Roland Edel, chief technology officer of Siemens’ mobility division. “Our technology is an already existing and feasible alternative to trucks operating with internal combustion engines.”
With this field trial, the e-highway will be tested on a public highway in Germany for the first time. Siemens will be responsible for the planning, construction and, as an option, maintenance of the system. The system is being built as part of the Elisa joint electrified heavy freight transport on autobahns project. Hessen Mobil, responsible for road and transport management in Hesse, is managing the project.
"Construction of the system will demonstrate the feasibility of integrating overhead contact systems with a public highway," said Gerd Riegelhuth, head of transport at Hessen Mobil. “The system will be used for real transport networks, and prove the practicality of climate-neutral freight transport in the urban region of Frankfurt.”
The e-highway is said to be twice as efficient as using internal combustion engines. That not only means halving energy consumption, but also significantly reducing local air pollution. The core element of the system is an intelligent pantograph on the lorries combined with a hybrid drive system. Lorries equipped with the system operate locally emission-free with electricity from the overhead line and automatically switch to a hybrid engine on roads without overhead lines.