A cooperation between the Swedish Government and the private sector has led to a unique approach to the quest for fossil-free transport, with the opening of the world’s first electric road near Gävle, Sweden.

Scania will supply specially fitted electric trucks for the 2km stretch of electric road on the E16 motorway, which will operate as regular hybrid, Euro 6-certified vehicles the rest of the time.

Claes Erixon, Scania’s head of research and development, sees the concept as a leap forward in the quest for a fossil-free fleet by 2030.

“The electric road is one important milestone on the journey towards fossil-free transport. Scania is committed to the success of this project and is committed to sustainable transport solutions,” Erixon said.

The truck receives electrical power from a pantograph power collector that is mounted on the frame behind its cab. The pantographs are in turn connected to overhead power lines that are above the right-hand lane of the road, and the trucks can freely connect to and disconnect from the overhead wires while in motion.

When the truck goes outside the electrically-powered lane, the pantograph is disconnected and the truck is then powered by the combustion engine or the battery- operated electric motor. The same principle applies when the driver wants to overtake another vehicle while on the electrified strip of the road.

Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt, who is responsible for Scania’s research into electrification, adds, “The potential fuel savings through electrification are considerable and the technology can become a cornerstone for fossil-free road transport services.”

The investment in the electric road concept in Gävle is a result of a program for the public procurement of innovative solutions that was launched by Swedish authorities, with an investment of nearly $20 million AUD.

The electric road is only one of several pioneering technologies that Scania is working on to help the spread of sustainable solutions for both urban and long-haul transport. The company is also developing technologies for alternative fuels, hybrid and fully-electric vehicles, as well as autonomously and wirelessly-connected transport.