“When it comes to moving large amounts of freight from one part of a country to another, companies usually have to choose between road or rail.
“Both have their advantages and disadvantages: trains can carry a huge amount of freight, can be powered entirely by electricity, but aren’t practical for final-mile deliveries. Trucks on the other hand, are far more versatile in the places they can travel, are better suited to smaller loads, and can provide final-mile deliveries absolutely anywhere. Their biggest drawback? They’re fuelled by particulate-producing, heavily-polluting, expensive-to-fuel diesel engines.
“But come February next year, Swedish truck maker Scania will begin testing a brand-new truck on a two-kilometre stretch of road between the Port of Gävle and town of Storvik along European highway 16. It might not be capable of long-distance travel as its diesel-powered siblings are, but it offers a clever compromise that could one day make zero carbon freight transportation — or dramatically carbon-reduced freight — a reality.
“That’s because the prototype electric hybrid truck is equipped with an overhead pantograph allowing it to feed off an overhead power line, using that electricity to operate in electric-only mode along the specially-named Gävle Electric Road.
“It’s a similar system to the one used by tens of thousands of electric trains, trams and trolly busses around the world today, and when combined with an efficient diesel engine, can dramatically improve overall emissions without taking away the key advantage a truck has over a train: the ability to go anywhere.”