PEM Researches Pantograph Retrofit for Long-Haul Electric Trucks

Logo of the project "BEE" Copyright: © ika RWTH Aachen

In the "BEE" research project, the "Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components" (PEM) chair of RWTH Aachen University and the RWTH's Institute for Automotive Engineering (ika) are looking into charging strategies for battery-electric trucks on long-distance routes. What is already being tested and is feasible with electric trucks in short-haul and regional freight transport does not apply to the same extent to long-haul logistics. Charging strategies for urban delivery traffic are currently not transferable to long distances, neither from the perspective of the energy user nor from that of the energy provider.

No standard procedure for conversion to overhead lines

Therefore, the RWTH research partners are investigating and evaluating the integration of overhead line technology based on two battery electric series trucks. In the BEE project, they are looking at the technology from the point of view of the vehicle manufacturer, for whom the conversion phase is relevant, since it is at this point that the existing series-production vehicle is decisively changed. At present, however, the vehicle manufacturer cannot refer to any set of standards to simplify the installation of the so-called pantograph system. During the conversion process, possible interfaces for a later standardization of the system are therefore discussed in cooperation with the developers. This is intended to simplify the conversion process in the future and thus create the basis for greater market penetration.

Comprehensive evaluation based on real driving data

The research vehicles enable a direct technology comparison of a pure battery electric vehicle (BEV) truck and a truck of this type with an additional overhead line interface. This allows the CO2 avoidance potential to be evaluated on the basis of real driving data obtained by the RWTH team through field tests. Extensive test drives on the grounds of several test facilities in Germany will also enable a route-specific evaluation of the technology and thus demonstrate its potential for application on public roads. On this basis, further studies will then be carried out, for example on the necessary battery capacity, vehicle range and payload. In addition to the vehicle's technical constraints, selected logistics companies and their associations will also be included in the studies to determine the acceptance of the future user group.



Simon Dünnwald

Group Leader


+49 171 6897411


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The project

  • "BEE": BEV Goes eHighway

Research objectives

  • Integration of overhead contact line technology (pantograph system) based on two battery-electric series trucks
  • Simplification of the conversion process for later standardization of the pantograph system
  • Comparison of a BEV truck with a BEV truck including a pantograph system and evaluation of the CO2 avoidance potential based on real driving data
  • Route-specific technology assessment through test drives at multiple test facilities nationwide
  • Investigation of acceptance by the future user group by involving selected logistics companies and associations

Research and project partners

Institute for Automotive Engineering (ika) (RWTH Aachen University) (project coordinator)
PEM of RWTH Aachen University


  • 01/01/2022 through 12/31/2024

Project sponsor

VDI/VDE Innovation + Technology GmbH

Funding code

  • 16EM5003-1


Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)