(Image: Scania)

On a little stretch of road in Sweden, cables have been strung up about 18 feet over the asphalt to feed trucks with electricity. While connected, the trucks will run off the grid instead of their own engines.

The trucks are hybrid-electric big rigs running off natural gas and battery power on normal roads most of the time. But when they hit the wired portion of the highway, a power-collecting antenna called a pantograph is extended and connected to run the truck like a city tram.

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Vehicles will be able to drive at 55 mph while hooked up to the overhead wire, according to Gas2.

(Image: Scania)

This technology has been in development for years as a collaborative project between Swedish vehicle manufacturer Scania and German tech outfit Siemens. Extensive prototype testing has already taken place at Siemens’ research and development facility outside Berlin, and as of June 22nd the system has been implemented on a public highway in Sweden.

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So far the cables only cover two kilometers (about 1.2 miles) of the E16 highway in a Swedish coastal town called Gävle, but interested parties are hoping to extend it to about 110 kilometers (about 68 miles) to the industrial town Borlänge, reports Sveriges Radio.

A Magnus Ernström, project manager from the local government explained to the station:

“On this stretch of road, we have a lot of our heavy industry that has a need to transport a lot of goods and the railroad going the same direction is already full, so we see this as a flexible railroad.”

“Heavy traffic needs a lot of energy and you have to have a conductive technology if you want to run them on electricity today, that is; you need to have a connection between a wire and the system in the truck. If you would run a heavy truck on battery, it would need 20 tons of battery to transport maybe 30-40 tons of cargo, so you would not have so much room left for the cargo.”

Sounds like Ernström would not think the Nikola One self-charging electric big rig is practical.

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For now, the Swedes plan to test the electric highway for two years and presumably measure everything about how it’s working in the “real world.”

Apparently the country is eyeing “a fossil-fuel-free transportation system by 2030,” of which an electrified road system could be a component.