The relatively short ranges and long charging times of current lithium-ion battery packs have hindered the development of electric long-haul trucks.

But who said a truck had to carry its entire supply of electricity onboard?

A section of highway near the city of Gävle Sweden now features overhead wires that provide power to electrified trucks.

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The wires on this "e-way" act like the catenary that powers electric trains, providing current that is picked up by pantographs mounted on top of specially-equipped trucks.

This arrangement is the first of its kind on a public road in the world, according to Scania, which supplied trucks for the Swedish government-backed project.

Wires were hung over a 2.0-kilometer (1.24-mile) stretch of the right lane of the E16 motorway. There is no separation between the electrified lane and other lanes for conventional cars and trucks.

Pantograph on Scania G360 hybrid truck

Pantograph on Scania G360 hybrid truck

A two-year trial program of the system will include two Scania G360 trucks, modified to pull power from the overhead wires with equipment from Siemens.

They are actually hybrids, with 9.0-liter diesel engines configured to run on biofuel as well as electric motors.

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In operation, the hybrid powertrains will allow the trucks to drive in the electric-only lane, but still switch to other lanes if necessary.

That includes when a driver wants to pass another truck on the electrified stretch of road.

The internal-combustion engine produces 360 horsepower, while the electric motor is rated at 150 kilowatts (201 hp).

Sweden's new e-way electrified highway

Sweden's new e-way electrified highway

Pantographs can connect to and disconnect from the overhead wires at speeds up to 90 kph (56 mph), according to Siemens.

In addition, an onboard 5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack provides enough storage capacity for 3 km (1.8 mi) or electric-only driving when not running on the e-way, according to Scania.

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Siemens is planning a second trail of this electric-truck technology for the U.S. next year.

Working with California's South Coast Air Quality Management District and Volvo Trucks (a distinct entity from Volvo cars), it plans to test catenary on roads near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.


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