Germany’s first electric Autobahn for hybrid trucks opens near Frankfurt

The 'eHighway' project, which sees hybrid trucks powered via overhead lines for the first time on a public Autobahn in Germany, launched on Tuesday.

Germany’s first electric Autobahn for hybrid trucks opens near Frankfurt

The 5km test track went into operation on the A5 between Langen/Mörfelden and Weiterstadt, south of Frankfurt, reported the Hessenschau.

The project, called Elisa (electrified, innovative heavy traffic on the Autobahn) is being tested in real traffic by five logistics companies with hybrid, battery-powered trucks on one of the busiest stretches of Autobahn in Germany.

A hybrid electric truck is a form of truck that uses hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology instead of using only a combustion engine. As the pictures show, the specially designed trucks can be charged as they drive beneath the installed overhead wires.

SEE ALSO: German government rejects speed limit on Autobahn

The aim is to collect and analyze data that could result in the project being rolled out in other parts of the country.

However, at a whopping €14.6million, the project, being funded by the government's Environment Ministry, isn't cheap.

The technology is intended to help reduce the pollution of heavy goods vehicles, with the test set to run until the end of 2022.

Will the e-highway affect other traffic?

The power feed on the 5km overhead lines is installed in both directions of travel (towards Frankfurt in one direction and Darmstadt in the other) and has been tested over the last five months. However, now it’s ready for more frequent use, according to project managers.

Truck maker Scania worked with Volkswagen and Siemens for the electric road project.

The overhead lines can be seen on the A5. Photo: DPA

Over the course of the pilot, questions such as how the electric Autobahn influences other traffic and how much pollution goes down will be addressed by the Technical University of Darmstadt, which is located near to the test track.

The project developers believe traffic will not be adversely affected by the electric trucks. The vehicles don't have to slow down when docking and undocking from the overhead charges.

After charging the trucks can continue carry on in battery mode. If the vehicle's batteries become empty, the hybrid engine with diesel takes over the drive.

SEE ALSO: Eight things you never know about the German Autobahn

Is the investment worth it?

Doubts have been raised about the cost-benefit ratio of the pilot project. Micheal Kraft, vice president of the Hessian Motor Trade Association, considers the technology, which is already used in Sweden, to be uneconomical.

“These are vehicles that are only suitable for very specific requirements and will play a minor role in the long term,” he says, reported the Hessenschau.

A total of three eHighway projects have been announced nationwide: In addition to the German states of Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein, Baden-Württemberg will also be launching a test track.

Construction for the A1 in Schleswig-Holstein is expected to be completed over the course of the year, while in Baden-Württemberg, work hasn’t started yet.

The world’s very first eHighway runs on a motorway in Sweden,.

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Six injured after man causes series of Berlin Autobahn crashes in ‘possible Islamist attack’

A man has caused a series of motorway accidents in Berlin, injuring six people including three seriously in what German prosecutors Wednesday described as an Islamist act.

Six injured after man causes series of Berlin Autobahn crashes in 'possible Islamist attack'
Investigators working at Berlin's A100 near the Alboinstrasse exit. Photo: DPA

The man appears to have had an “Islamist motivation according to our current knowledge”, prosecutors told AFP.

Local media reported that the man was a 30-year-old Iraqi who had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) when getting out of his car Tuesday night.

Berlin's State Security is investigating a man who caused the city highway to be closed for hours.. Photo: DPA

Three accidents occurred on the A100 city motorway at about 6.30pm in the Berlin neighbourhoods of Wilmersdorf, Schöneberg and Tempelhof, reported the Berliner Morgenpost.

A motorist rammed several vehicles, including three motorcycles, with his Opel Astra, coming to a halt at the Alboinstraße exit in Tempelhof.

He threatened the policemen with a supposedly “dangerous object” he was carrying in a box, and was arrested.

“Nobody come any closer or you will all die,” the Bild daily quoted the suspect as saying after he stopped his car and placed the metal box on the roof of his vehicle.

A spokesperson for Berlin's fire department said that three people were seriously injured, and three others lightly injured, including a motorcyclist.

The man is being investigated by Berlin's State Security. The Autobahn A100 was closed for several hours on Tuesday due to the accidents.

Because of the ongoing investigations, parts of the Autobahn were still closed on Wednesday morning, leading to rush hour traffic jams.

According to the Berliner Zeitung, police used a drone for filming from the air.

Forensic technicians x-rayed the metal box the man was carrying, and said it was suitable for storing ammunition.

However, when police opened the box using high-pressure water jets it was found to contain nothing but tools. They also did not find any explosives in the man's car.

“The possibility of an Islamist attack cannot be ruled out in view of the events of yesterday evening,” prosecutors said in a statement the day after the incidents.

“Statements by the accused suggest a religious Islamist motivation” for his
actions, they said, adding: “There are also indications of psychological instability”.

The suspect was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in at least three cases and later today was to face a judge who will decide whether he should be placed in a psychiatric facility.

One of the injured was a firefighter, said Berlin interior minister Andreas
Geisel, adding that he was “dismayed that innocent people have fallen victim to a crime out of nowhere”.

“We must be aware that Berlin remains a focus of Islamist terrorism,” he added.

The suspect had published clues on social media that he was planning an attack, according to the DPA news agency.

He had posted photos of the car used for the attack on Facebook, along with religious slogans, the report said, citing a spokesman for the prosecution.

Previous incidents

People with ties to Islamic extremism have committed violent attacks in Germany in recent years.

The worst was a ramming attack at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016 that killed 12. The Tunisian attacker, a failed asylum seeker, was a supporter of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

More recently, an Islamist and his wife were convicted of planning a biological bomb attack in Germany in 2018 with the deadly poison ricin.

The pair had ordered castor seeds, explosives and metal ball bearings on
the internet to build the toxic bomb.

READ ALSO: Man handed 10 year jail term for biological bomb plot in Germany

The man was in March sentenced to 10 years in prison while his wife received an eight-year sentence in June.

Since 2013, the number of Islamists considered dangerous in Germany has
increased fivefold to 680, according to security services.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has often been accused, particularly by the
far right, of having contributed to the Islamist threat by opening the country's borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants in 2015.