Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

A Small Stretch of Swedish Highway Is Now Electric

It somehow looks more retro than a normal highway.

One of two specially outfitted trucks tries out the highway.

One of two specially outfitted trucks tries out the new eHighway. (Photo copyright Scania CV AB)

This past weekend, drivers heading eastward on Sweden’s highway E16 passed an unfamiliar sight—huge trucks cruising along in the slow lane, sporting complex head attachments and attached to a skein of overhead wires.

But these trucks aren’t cosplaying as cable cars. They’re part of a brand new “eHighway,” unveiled this week and meant to make Sweden’s transport system more energy-efficient by swapping fossil fuels for electricity, according to Radio Sweden. (The retro look is just a bonus.)

The wires, which look like trolley lines, are hooked up to the electric grid. Specially outfitted trucks can connect and disconnect from them at full speed, using intelligent connectors called pantographs. According to Siemens, which designed the project, trucks hooked up to the cables are twice as efficient as those running solely on combustion engines.

For now, the project’s scale is small—just two trucks are wielding pantographs, and the e-highway spans only two kilometers, outside the city of Gävle. But Sweden aims to remove fossil fuels from its transport sector by 2030. If this experiment works out, slow lanes throughout the country could get wired up.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.