Siemens e-highway concept uses overhead cables to power trucks (Photo: Siemens)

Siemens has received the green light from California authorities to test a so-called e-highway concept near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The German electrical and electronics conglomerate said it will fit a section of highway with overhead cables that can power specially equipped trucks the same way trams traditionally operate. Siemens is working with Volvo Trucks and its Mack brand to develop a demonstration vehicle for the project, while local truck integrators will also provide vehicles for the test.

A similar test was launched near Berlin in 2012. Siemens built a 1.2 km test track there to try out its e-highway concept.

Siemens developed the e-highway especially for heavily used and relatively short truck routes. That fits with the requirements of Los Angeles and Long Beach for a section of highway that sees about 35,000 shuttle truck journeys a day. Much of that traffic transports goods from the ports to inland rail trans-shipment centers 30 km away.

The cities, which are battling heavy smog in the area, are looking for a solution that will let them establish a "zero emission corridor" for this traffic.

The Siemens project will start in July, 2015, and will last  a year. Four trucks will ply the route during the test period. These e-trucks will have a hybrid drive system and intelligent current collectors. On roads without overhead cables, they can use an electric drive system that can be powered by a variety of energy sources.

Siemens said its e-highway system allows vehicles to overtake and dock and undock from the highway at speeds of up to 90 kmh.