Thon oversees highway electrification projects for the power and industrial technology company Siemens, which is building the road in Carson and has tested similar highways in Germany and Sweden.
“The advantages of this system is, first, it’s zero-emission,” Thons says. “So the noise level is really reduced. And furthermore you have economic benefits because the electric drive requires less energy than the diesel one.”
The road’s setup will be familiar to anyone who has seen a trolley or streetcar trundle through a city. Specially designed trucks run underneath electric lines, each equipped with an instrument called a pantograph that makes connection to the lines and draws power to propel the vehicle. Currently, three trucks — a battery-electric, natural gas and electric hybrid, and a diesel hybrid — are testing out the mile-long road, which cost $13.5 million to build.