Earlier this month, North American trucking giant Mack Trucks introduced an innovative new prototype tractor that attaches directly to overhead power lines and runs on electricity. The tractor is part of an “eHighway” project designed to reduce air pollution in high-traffic areas. South Coast Air Quality Management District sponsored the initiative, which is a partnership between Mack Trucks and global solutions firm Siemens.
The eHighway is just one of several ways the trucking industry is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The industry is also simultaneously trying to decrease the number of truck accidents on the road. Several companies including United Parcel Service and Tesla have already ordered partial or full-electric trucks for their fleets.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
In 2015, medium and heavy trucking accounted for more than six percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new greenhouse gas regulations, requiring truck manufacturers to significantly reduce carbon emissions in three stages before 2027. The EPA plan would cut oil consumption by up to two billion barrels, saving owners around $170 billion in fuel costs.
Electric Trucks and eHighways
The biggest hurdle stalling deployment of electric trucks was the development of a battery powerful enough to pull the weight of an average-size tractor trailer. The eHighway bypasses this problem, allowing trucks to be pulled by a system of electric rails overhead, similar to the way streetcars operate. Siemens has been working on its eHighway infrastructure for five years. They installed the electric rail system along a mile length of highway lanes near Los Angeles and Long Beach area ports.
EPA regulators acknowledge that reducing emissions will initially cost semi-truck owners and operators $6,400 per truck up front beginning with 2021 models. However, they say those expenses will be repaid in fuel savings within two years, longer for smaller trucks and vans. Manufacturers can meet EPA-mandated reductions with less-expensive investments including automatic tire inflation technology, automated transmissions, and advanced aerodynamics.
The eHighway trucking system presents unique safety concerns. The system was tested in a controlled setting, but it is currently unknown as to how electrified trucks will interact with passenger vehicles in the real-world.
Electric-drive vehicles are subject to the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards as conventional vehicles. Electric cars are designed to deactivate the battery during a car accident. Manufacturers also publish first responder guidelines for assisting passengers during an emergency.
Delaware Truck Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Victims of eHighway Tractor Truck Accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact a Delaware truck accident lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call 302-888-1221 or complete our online form to schedule an initial consultation. Our offices are located in Philadelphia and we work with clients from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.