Green Machine: Electric freight trucks coming to LA
San Francisco has its famous electric streetcars, but Los Angeles looks set to take the concept one step further. Freight trucks may soon buzz up and down electric lines along Interstate 710, which connects Los Angeles to Long Beach, California. This "eHighway" could cut carbon emissions and fuel use by trucks by as much as 30 per cent.
Siemens Technology announced the eHighway project, at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles earlier this month. The company has been testing the cable-truck concept in Germany for some time, but the Los Angeles pilot project would be the first test of the trucks in a real city.
Siemens expects that the cable trucks could begin running within the year.
It's a great city to start in: according to the Los Angeles Times, 40 per cent of the cargo freight that enters the US comes through ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles before being shipped down the highway. Cargo trucks in the US consume nearly 2.5 million gallons of oil per year and improvements to their efficiency lag far behind those to cars.
Once the lines are in place, all eHighway would need is a fleet of hybrid diesel-electric trucks that could switch back to diesel power as soon as they go off the overhead lines. Siemens says that system is nearly seamless: in the test project in Germany, the trucks could switch between diesel and electric power at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour.
The downside, however, is that although electric lines are easy to install on highways and technologically simple, they are very expensive. They may cost as much as five to seven million dollars per mile.