Continental & Siemens to cooperate on truck pantographs
Continental Engineering Services (CES) and Siemens Mobility will cooperate in the development and production of pantographs for trucks. The duo has in mind the electrification of road freight transport by means of so-called eHighways, as they are currently being tested in three regions in Germany.
Both companies are pooling their know-how in order to quickly set up series production of pantographs and make them available for widespread use in Europe. The new partnership combines the expertise of two technological worlds, according to communications from both companies. Siemens Mobility is a specialist for railway electrification, while Continental Engineering Services is a development and production service provider for automotive technologies. “The cooperation aims to electrify key stretches of highway-networks in Germany’s autobahn network with overhead contact lines and thus significantly reduce CO 2 emissions from trucks.”
Siemens Mobility has already developed an eHighway technology that supplies trucks with electricity via an overhead line. It enables trucks to drive completely electrically thanks to the contact of the current collector with the line and at the same time charge their batteries without using fuel. The system is currently being tested on three public test routes in Germany: on the A5 in Hesse between the Zeppelinheim/Cargo City Süd junctions of Frankfurt Airport and Darmstadt/Weiterstadt, in Schleswig-Holstein on the A1 between the Reinfeld junction and the Lübeck motorway intersection, and on the B462 federal road in Baden-Württemberg between Kuppenheim and Gaggenau.
The eHighway field trials are funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment. In addition, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) supports the scaling of overhead lines for long-distance transport in so-called innovation clusters and intends to realise large-scale pilot installations by 2023.
Siemens Mobility and CES see potential for the overhead contact line system throughout Europe. This is supported by the fact that Siemens Mobility in Great Britain has just been brought on board a consortium that wants to build a 20-kilometre section of an eHighway test track on the M180 near Scunthorpe. This could be operational in 2024.
“Highway freight transport plays a central role in the fight against climate change. In Germany, it accounts for one-third of all the CO 2 emissions in the transport sector. Truck manufacturers are pursuing various concepts to reduce this burden. With its eHighway, Siemens Mobility has already developed a ready-to-use technology for energy-efficient, cost-effective and emission-free truck transport that can be combined with other drive systems to become the backbone for fighting climate change in this sector,” expresses Michael Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility.
Dr Christoph Falk-Gierlinger, Managing Director of CES, sees his company’s role in the cooperation as follows: “At CES, we’re applying the principle of rail electrification to the highway. The pantographs will be further developed and manufactured to meet automotive standards. The partnership between Siemens Mobility and Continental Engineering Services marks a major step toward achieving climate-neutral freight transport.”
Both partners emphasise that not all kilometres of motorway will have to be electrified in the future. The “National Platform for the Future of Mobility”, an innovation initiative of the German Ministry of Transport, recommends equipping 4,000 kilometres of motorway with overhead line technology by 2030. This is because about two-thirds of the fuel consumption in long-distance truck traffic on German motorways occurs on the busiest 4,000 kilometres of the 13,000-kilometre motorway network, the duo informs us. “If it is possible to electrify the core network and to supply the trucks driving there with electric drive (battery, hybrid, hydrogen) with electricity in a simple way, a high contribution to climate protection can be achieved quickly.”