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German pilot project: World’s first electric motorway

by | 21.01.2019

For many years Germany’s logistics industry has been working on how road and rail transport can be clean, with less noise and emissions. International freight traffic is continuously increasing: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) speaks of a tripling of the global transport performance between 2000 and 2050. Only about one third of these additional freight transports can be handled by rail despite considerable expansion of the railway infrastructure. With higher volatility of value creation structures and increasing consumer demands for the fastest possible delivery, road and truck transport are fully exploiting their advantage of maximum flexibility at low cost.


What remains for sustainable logistics is to make the mode of transport itself more ecologically friendly. SIEMENS pursues the path of electrifying the road. The idea is not entirely new and many people are familiar with it, for example in the form of electrified bus services. Thanks to modern technology, there are now approaches to electrifying heavily used motorway sections for trucks. Even if the infrastructural effort is enormous, fully electric trucks can save fuel and emissions. If the electricity consists of renewable energies, the truck even becomes a climate-neutral mode of transport.


The concept provides for overhead contact lines to connect the truck’s pantographs automatically when it drives underneath them. In this mode, it not only receives power for driving, but also for charging the battery, allowing it to cover further kilometers without overhead lines.


An ingenious energy management system ensures that energy is recovered when braking, for example, which then flows back into the battery or even back into the power grid. For conurbations in particular, the electrification of truck fleets can make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 and fine dust pollution as well as reducing noise emissions. In a first pilot project under real conditions between Darmstadt and Frankfurt (Germany), experiences with the operation of the system are to be collected.

eHighway. Benefits and highlights.

  • Innovative freight traffic solution
  • Combines efficiency of electrified railroads with flexibility of trucks
  • Economical and environmentally friendly
  • Applicable for various use cases: Shuttle transport, Electrified freight transport in mines, Electrified long-haul traffic
  • Consists of three core elements: the energy supply, the pantograph, and hybrid drive technology




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