We have been active with business development and research related to electric road transport systems since 2008. We have extensive knowledge and experience of every aspect; energy efficiency, environmental benefits, technology, economy, legal challenges, political & tax issues as well as commercial opportunities. We have an extensive expert network and offers various services.
ELVÄG is the swedish shortname for "electrified road". If you read it backwards it becomes GÄVLE. The city of Gävle is the town were it all started.
According to our calculations; a road is economically profitable to electrify as soon as the flow of trucks are more than a truck a minute (1,440 daily truck passings). The vast majority of highways in Europe exceeds this truck flow with a good margin and some with a factor of 10. The map below shows the extent of completed motorway network in Europe (as of May 2014).
An electric road transport system enables:
The technique of building the electric system is open and freely accessible. In the case of overhead line and power supply, the technology is already standardized by rail and trolley bus. Innovative components can be patented, i.e. an intelligent current collector/pantograph. However, there are a number of alternative designs that could be considered freely available. We believe that both new and existing providers will find new opportunities for product and service development. This will foster competition and expansion.
An electric truck is a hybrid electric vehicle. It can be powered by both electricity and conventional fuels, such as biodiesel. This means that an electric truck has the same range as a conventional truck. In a future where more and more of the road network is electrified, the internal combustion engine will be phased out in favour of batteries.
Each vehicle has an electricity meter that measures the amount of energy consumed. Energy consumption is supplemented with information about the truck's location and at what time. This information is sent over the cellular network (or local network) to a billing central. A bill is sent to the fleet operator or truck owner. The billing system is similar to the ones used by all cell phone operators.
Railway and road transports complements each other and are not interchangeable. The market shares for railroad transports and road transports will not change substantially. Beside that, the lead time, the costs and the environmental footprint of establishing a new railway are of another magnitude. We will not have the time nor the money to replace the roads with railroads.
Trolley trucks have been present in closed industrial applications such as mines, factories and ports. Special trucks have served a certain route. What is new are an intelligent current collector/pantograph and a billing system. These innovations enable all trucks equipped with approved current collectors/pantographs and billing module to connect to the system as well as disconnecting and continue to run on conventional fuels such as biodiesel.
Electrified roads will basically use the same technology as trams and trolleybuses. Voltage is aound 750 volts and is used in many cities around the world. If a line falls down or comes in contact with foreign matter, the power will turn of immediately. The risk of an electric shock is very small. A more troublesome risk is if a vehicle at high speed hits a downed overhead line. The system can warn vehicles approaching a fallen overhead line. The security issues need to be investigated and tested thoroughly before the system can be widely implemented.
Electrified roads can be compared visually with electrified railways and one can argue for and against. Is a road or rail at all aesthetically pleasing? Maybe we conclude that the overhead is ugly and that is the price we have to pay to reduce CO2 emissions. On the other hand, electrified roads compared to ordinary roads, graetly reduces the noise and smell!
Besides reducing CO2 emissions, noise and exhaust fumes are reduced locally. In the long term electric trucks offers several advantages:
A very small percentage of trips by car are long distance. US Department of Transportation, DOT, says that 75% of daily car trips in the U.S.) is less than 40 miles (60 km). This includes commuting which is at least two trips. If you look at individual trips (one trip at a time), Volkswagen, states that 97% of the trips are less than 150 km and Toyota states that 75% is less than 20 km. These trips are handled excellent by batteries. In addition, we estimate that the cost and environmental impact will be greater than the benefit to support passenger cars.
CO2 emissions from fossil fuels can be reduced by 10% in a country like Sweden if the main highways are electrified.
Our overall assessment is that there are few, if any, actions enabling an equal reduction of energy consumtion and greenhouse gas emissions given same time period and an equal cost.
Vehicles with a minimum height of about 3.8 meters can be used. Otherwise the current collector will be large, heavy and awkward. Trucks, trailer rigs, petrol and timber trucks as well as long distance coaches are examples.