An electrified highway is theoretically the most efficient way to eliminate truck emissions. But the political obstacles are daunting. From a report: Traton is among the backers of the so-called eHighway south of Frankfurt, a group that also includes Siemens and Autobahn GmbH, the government agency that oversees German highways. There are also short segments of electrified road in the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Baden-Wurttemberg. The technology has been tried in Sweden and, in 2017, on a one-mile stretch near the Port of Los Angeles.
So far the sections of highway equipped with overhead cable in Germany are short — about three miles long in both directions near Frankfurt. Their purpose is to test how the system performs in everyday use by real trucking companies hauling real goods. By the end of the year more than 20 trucks will be using the systems in Germany. Enter Mr. Schmieder, who learned to drive a truck in the German army, and his employer, a trucking firm called Schanz Spedition in the small town of Ober-Ramstadt, in a hilly, thickly forested region about a 35-mile drive from Frankfurt.
If the eHighway is ever going to be rolled out on a large scale, it has to work for companies like Schanz, a family-owned firm managed by Christine Hemmel and Kerstin Seibert, sisters who are great-granddaughters of the founder. Their father, Hans Adam Schanz, though technically retired, was at the wheel of a forklift maneuvering pallets into the back of a truck recently as Mr. Schmieder climbed into the cab for his second run of the day hauling paint to a distribution center in Frankfurt.