Siemens Takes Tram Technology to Wire Up Trucks With VW’s Scania

Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, formed a partnership with Volkswagen AG’s Scania unit to develop trucks powered by electricity from overhead or via road surfaces, like tram systems.

The project aims to make commercial vehicles by combining Soedertaelje, Sweden-based Scania’s knowledge of electric truck and bus power trains with Siemens’s power-supply expertise, the two companies said today in separate statements.

“Sweden’s aim of fossil-free freight transport and access to fossil-free electricity creates a positive political climate for this type of technology,” Goeran Persson, head of Siemens’s Infrastructure and Cities unit in Sweden, said in the statement. “We are now taking a big step forward in being able to supply a finished product.”

Siemens’s “eHighway” project, begun in 2010 with some German government funding, draws on so-called pantograph technology similar to that used in trams. Electricity is provided to buses and heavy cargo vehicles through overhead cables, and the company already has a 4-kilometer (2.5 mile) test track outside Berlin. Last year, the two companies presented an electric truck prototype based on this technology, and the Swedish Transport Administration has proposed the trial installation of overhead cables on a 12-kilometer stretch of road near the Finnish border.

In 2006, Sweden commissioned a report which proposed ways to eliminate the country’s dependence on oil by 2020, targeting a reduction of at least 40 percent in the use of oil for road transport.

Volkswagen, which controls Scania, is seeking closer cooperation between the Swedish truckmaker and MAN AG, the Munich-based truckmaker in which it owns a 73.7 percent stake.

While today’s announcement places the cooperation between the two companies on a more formal footing, it is too early to say whether it will become a full joint venture, Scania spokesman Hans-Ake Danielsson said by telephone, declining to specify any targets or time-frame for development.

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