Siemens believes electric or hybrid-electric trucks can be easily powered via overhead electrified wires, similar to how trolley buses and streetcars are operated today.
The German power engineering group unveiled its "eHighway" concept at the annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles this week.
It said that using overhead wires to bring electricity to trucks will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and provides a solution that is easy to integrate in existing highways and infrastructures.
"Already more and more consumers are driving electric and hybrid vehicles," said Daryl Dulaney, CEO of Siemens' US based Infrastructure & Cities group. "If we can get the commercial freight industry to come on board, we'll decrease emissions dramatically and improve sustainability."
Freight traffic on US roads alone is expected to double in volume by 2050, with carbon dioxide emissions from this sector set to rise 30 pc.
Siemens' eHighway concept would use select highway lanes across short or intermediate distances. Hybrid diesel-electric freight trucks woud have built-in technology and software to connect to the overhead wires. They would switch to electric mode when they detect the overhead lines and switch back to diesel when they leave the lines.
As the system is adopted more widely, "every truck equipped with an electric drive system will be able to use the eHighway regardless if it's a diesel electric, pure battery, fuel cell range-extended or CNG combustion engine vehicle," Siemens said in a press release.
It added that it already has developed the supporting technologies and said pilot projects are underway in Germany. Similar tests will be conducted in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.