First eHighway on the German autobahn

Hessen opens test track for electric trucks with overhead power lines


Test drive of a white catenary hybrid truck
Functional testing on autobahn A 5 between Darmstadt and Frankfurt - 2018

Joint press release of the the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (German: BMU), the Hessian State Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing (German: HMWEVW), the traffic authority Hessen Mobil as well as other project partners.

The first German test track for catenary hybrid trucks has opened on the Hessian autobahn A5. The trucks are equipped with an electric and a diesel engine as well as batteries that can be charged quickly via overhead power lines. By mid-2020 the number of catenary hybrid trucks will increase to five vehicles that travel the distance between Weiterstadt and Langen / Mörfelden several times a day. The Federal Ministry for the Environment funded the construction of the system with 14.6 million euros. Another 15.3 million euros have been granted for the field trial which runs until the end of 2022. The traffic authority Hessen Mobil coordinates the project and is responsible for operating the eHighway. Other partners involved include the Technische Universität Darmstadt, the Siemens Mobility GmbH and the ENTEGA AG. The five catenary hybrid trucks drive on behalf of various logistics companies. The first of the trucks goes to Spedition Schanz.

Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary in the BMU, says: "Electrically operated catenary hybrid trucks are a particularly efficient solution on the way to climate-neutral freight transport. We have tested them for many years on a non-public test track. Now the trials start on the A5 between Frankfurt and Darmstadt. Two more test tracks in Schleswig-Holstein and Baden-Württemberg will follow." So far, the BMU has provided more than 70 million euros for the development of catenary hybrid trucks. The technology is particularly interesting for the part of truck traffic that can not be shifted from road to rail in the medium to long term.

"Hessen thus emphasizes its leading role in the transition to sustainable, climate-friendly mobility and its openness to new technologies in the transport sector," says Jens Deutschendorf, State Secretary in the Hessian State Ministry of Transport. Gerd Riegelhuth, President of Hessen Mobil explains: "The special character of the Hessian test track is how it integrates climate-friendly technologies into the system of cooperative automated traffic. This can be a way to make future traffic safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly."

The technology is quite simple: An overhead power line supplies the catenary hybrid truck's electric motor with energy. While the truck is connected to the overhead power line, it drives using its electric motor and charges its battery at the same time. With the energy stored in the battery, the truck can continue driving emission-free even after leaving the overhead line route. In the case of an empty battery, the hybrid truck still has a back up diesel engine on board allowing the vehicle to keep going.

"Due to a broad, interdisciplinary research approach, our university can clarify many questions within this project that will arise in a large-scale system deployment," says Manfred Boltze, professor at the Institute for Transport Planning and Traffic Engineering (IVV) of the TU Darmstadt.

"The opening of the first German eHighway in Hessen represents a milestone in the decarbonization of road freight transport in Germany. The innovation developed by Siemens Mobility combines the advantages of electrified railways with the flexibility of road freight transport and thus offers an efficient, economical and environmentally friendly alternative to truck transport with combustion engines," states Roland Edel, Head of Technology at the Siemens Mobility GmbH.

"As a project partner, ENTEGA will work on solutions to issues regarding energy and planning regulations as well as develop a concept for an invoicing system. In addition, we will conduct the evaluation from the point of view of energy suppliers and will remain available as contact partners for legal topics concerning energy and regulatory aspects," says Dr. Marie-Luise Wolff, CEO of ENTEGA AG.

Further information:  

The test tracks at a glance:

Press contact
Press officer: Regine Zylka
phone: +49 30 18 305 2010

German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety
Stresemannstraße 128 - 130
D-10117 Berlin