- Trucks are trains... the future is odd.

Scania truck looks like a transformer and points to a weird hybrid future

Scania's phantograph hybrid R 450 makes a truck into a train.

2y ago


Did you know rail is one of the most cost-effective forms of resource transport?

Yeah. After those massive freight ships, the next most efficient form of freight transport is rail. In fact, in terms of energy consumption, rail freight is close to four times more efficient than trucks.

Impressive right? Which is probably why there’s now a Scania truck, that is also sort of like a train. You see, in Sweden and Germany, governments are trying to improve on the long-relied on fleets of diesel transport vehicles that run through the veins of Europe’s economy.

The result is this.

The phantograph system is developed by Siemens.

The phantograph system is developed by Siemens.

It’s a Scania R 450 hybrid prime mover, and that assembly sticking out the top of it is called a phantograph.

The problem with hybrid trucks, Scania explains, is that they are required to be on the road so often that stopping to plug-in charge them for long periods would be "highly disruptive". So, the solution is to literally charge them as they go with those roof-mounted collectors.

Other benefits include less unexpected load on the power grid and significantly reduced CO2 emissions. The hybrid systems will supplement the R 450’s 13-litre inline-six diesel engine.

Scania teamed up with Volkswagen Group Research on the German government project, which will kick off in stages throughout 2019. Scania will build just 15 phantograph trucks.

If you happen to be in Germany throughout the year and want to see a freeway with train-like power-lines (the government is calling them e-highways) you’ll be able to do so at three locations. One in Hessen, one in Lübeck, and a third in Baden-Württemberg is expected to be finished early in 2020.

Meanwhile, in Scania’s home country of Sweden, e-highway trials have been ongoing since 2016. Some utilize these overhead phantograph collectors, while others have been trialled with an electrified power source along a rail in the road, much like a slot car.

Sweden has been trialing different types of e-highway for a few years.

Sweden has been trialing different types of e-highway for a few years.

Will trucks be trains in the near future? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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Comments (6)

  • Flux capacitor is surely the only way forward

      2 years ago
  • It is the only option next to hydrogen. You dont want to recharge your truck every 150km. Takes way too long. It also requires massive cables to each charging station as those trucks need a lot of energy

      2 years ago
    • I really think hydrogen is the future, if they can overcome the issues, although I do think the main issues of refueling and the cost of the fuel cells are reduced when looking at trucks.

      Trucks are expensive anyway, so replacing the engine...

      Read more
        2 years ago
    • Ill start working on a fusion reactor in the mean time to generate the power required!

        2 years ago
  • It's actually "pantograph" in case anyone is actually trying to research such devices.

      2 years ago