Large trucks emit a significant amount of pollution, including greenhouse gases.
This is likely to get worse unless changes are made in the trucking industry. A number of trucking companies, including Daimler, Cummins, and Tesla, are developing electric freight-hauling trucks. These companies are looking to reduce the risk of truck accidents while also reducing emissions. However, their trucks are not ready to hit the road just yet.
Mack Trucks, however, has developed a prototype tractor that attaches to overhead power lines similar to a trolley car. The prototype is part of a Siemens-led demonstration project that is sponsored by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).
The “eHighway” electrified tractor was tested near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The trucks are attached to overhead power lines—also referred to as a catenary system—which enables them to run on electricity.
The goal of the project, according to Jonathan Randall, Mack Senior Vice President of North American sales, is to reduce air pollution. The project focuses on two of the largest ports in the United States. The “eHighway” is located in Carson, California, which is near the second-busiest seaport in the country. The trucks can connect to the catenary lines for electric power, and then disconnect when they get to the end of the line. As soon as they are no longer connected to the catenary system, they will return to running on fuel.
Currently, the eHighway only covers a one-mile distance and there are only three trucks that are designed to pair with the system. One is a battery electric truck, the second is a natural-gas hybrid-electric truck, and the third is a diesel-hybrid truck. When connected to the catenary, the trucks release zero emissions.
The vehicle used in the demonstration is a Pinnacle daycab that comes equipped with a plug-in hybrid electric driveline, which can be powered by the overhead electric lines. Energy is transferred into the vehicle’s driveline, using a “collector” supplied by Siemens.
According to Andreas Thon, North America Head of Siemens Rail Electrification, next steps are currently being discussed, and the trucking industry will continue to work together to provide the latest findings on this new fuel-efficient technology.
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