May 16, 2012 at 4:10 PM ET
Overhead electric wires commonly used to power commuter trains, street cars and city buses may soon give a jolt to trucks that ferry freight from cargo ships to storefronts.
The technology will trim fossil fuel consumption and related carbon dioxide emissions as well as noise pollution, according to the engineering giant Siemens Corp. as it unveiled its e-Highway concept at the 26th Electric Vehicle Symposium.
"When most people think of vehicle emissions, they assume cars do most of the damage, but it's actually commercial trucks that are largely to blame," Daryl Dulaney, chief executive of Siemens Infrastructure and Cities in North America, said in statement.
The system fitted onto hybrid diesel electric freight trucks uses built-in technology and software to connect to overhead electric wires where they are available. If there are no wires, the trucks use their diesel engines.
This ability to seamlessly switch from electric to diesel power allows for the flexibility trucks need to reach their destinations.
The concept is currently being tested in Germany and a pilot project is planned for California along Interstate 710, moving freight from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
“More than 40 percent of freight that arrives in the U.S. via shipping containers comes through the ports of Long Beach and L.A. That freight then has to be trucked to rail stations or other points of distribution,” the Los Angeles Times notes in a story about the e-Highway.
The one downside to the technology, the newspaper noted, is cost: building the infrastructure to make this possible runs between $5 million and $7 million per mile.
— Via Los Angeles Times
John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.