Down to Earth – Trucks: Highway to zero emissions

Issued on: 08/10/2021 – 13:52

An electrified highway, with infrastructure similar to that used in a tram, is being billed as one of the solutions to reduce the heavy toll of carbon emissions linked to long-haul transport. Electronic giant Siemens has already built the technology on several stretches of German highways, enabling trucks to charge their batteries while they drive. The Down to Earth team went to see how it works.


How to reduce carbon emissions in long-haul transport is an important battleground in the fight against climate change. In the European Union alone, trucks are responsible for 22 percent of road transport emissions, despite making up only 2 percent of vehicles. Until recently the debate has mainly focused on whether batteries or hydrogen fuel cells are the most efficient way to clean up the industry. Daimler Trucks is betting on both.

The German car manufacturer is pitching its new electric truck as ideal for journeys of up to 400 kilometres, with a hydrogen-powered version, expected to be released before the end of this decade, better suited to longer distances. Bringing rail back to life German startup CargoBeamer argues we already have the massive infrastructure required to transport freight over long distances.

With its innovative technology, the company is trying to revive Europe’s often overlooked rail networks.

CargoBeamer’s operations team leader Loic Caboche explains: “Each train can carry 36 semi-trailers per journey, which means we take 36 semi-trailers off the road… we need to fill all types of trains with freight.”