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.
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.
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,.