French consortium investigates electric highways for HGVs

electric trucks

A consortium of French companies has released a study investigating truck electric highways.

Low-carbon consultancy firm Carbone 4 has produced the study, which confirms the interesting possibilities of developing this technology to reduce the CO2 emissions of resulting from freight transport.

The study focuses on the possibility of implementing a fleet of hybrid heavy goods vehicles powered by a continuous supply of electricity made available over the entire length of the highway. The electricity distribution system would be installed along the inner lane of the highway, which would remain open to other vehicles, notably conventional heavy goods vehicles. The hybrid truck design would allow for use of an electric motor on the highway and a traditional internal combustion engine for maneuvering (overtaking, entering and exiting highways) and non-highway travel.

“Innovation is in our DNA,” says Philippe de CarneĢ, innovation director at Geodis.

“The search for alternatives to diesel and the reduction of the environmental impacts of dangerous emissions is one of our main research aims at GEODIS. This is why we sought to initiate this study. Our role as a leader in our sector and an enabler of our customers’ growth is to prepare for the technological advances that lie ahead in our constantly changing environment.”

The study shows that this type of project is an effective way of reducing the environmental impact of goods transport by road while optimizing the use of existing transport infrastructure. Implementation would require only a slight operational adjustment on the part of road transport professionals, with no transshipments and minimal training to adapt the driving style of their drivers.

The study confirms that on some highly trafficked routes and for transport companies using a single route the electric highway is a profitable option given current market conditions. Public financial support of €3 billion would serve to achieve profitability faster by generating positive environmental externalities (with a significant 30 MtCO2 reduction in transport-generated CO2 emissions) and a beneficial macroeconomic effect.

Today, road transport (of people and goods) is highly dependent on oil products and accounts for 30% of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in France. Roughly half of these are as a result of freight transport, the majority (85%) by road. The greenhouse gas emissions of heavy goods vehicles account for approximately 5% of national emissions and 3% to 4% of national energy consumption. 

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