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Scania developing grid-powered electric big rigs

  • scania-rendering-660.jpg

     (Scania)

  • scania-660.jpg

     (Scania)

While efforts are underway to fill roads around the world with electric vehicles, Sweden may electrify the roads themselves.

Swedish heavy truck manufacturer Scania has teamed up with German electronics company Siemens to create long haul big rigs that can run off of electricity provided by the grid, eliminating the need for heavy, expensive batteries that can only provide limited range.

The idea is to modify Scania's existing hybrid powertrain technology so that it can tap into overhead power lines like an electric train or trolleybus, or draw energy through induction from lines embedded into the road surface.

In the case of the overhead system, the vehicle would be powered by an internal combustion engine when it is off the electric network, then deploy an extendable pantograph mounted on the roof to connect to the overhead lines where they are available. With induction, the vehicle would simply need to drive along a demarcated route that it could wirelessly couple to for power.

Scania spokesperson Hans-Åke Danielsson tells FoxNews.com that prototype vehicles are currently under development and the partnership is planning to equip a Siemens test track in Germany with the technology next year for evaluation.

Over the past two decades, Sweden, which gets much of its electricity from renewable hydroelectric and wind sources, switched nearly its entire 13,000 km rail network to electric power, and Danielsson says it would take just a third of that distance to establish an effective electrified road network for commercial transport.

He adds that interest in the proposal is so great, Scania believes that it's not a matter of whether or not such a network will come to fruition, but when, and when could be just a few years away.