Scania truck looks like a transformer and points to a weird hybrid future
BY TOM WHITE
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.
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.
Will trucks be trains in the near future? Tell us what you think in the comments.