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China debuts bonkers hybrid electric trolley-truck

Mutant offspring of a semi and a trolleybus suggested as emission-cutting future of commercial transport

China's march into the future of everything moved forward yesterday with the debut of an electric vehicle that can draw power from either on-board batteries or overhead wires, plus a demo of roads set up to handle such traffic.

Words clearly fail us in our attempt to describe this … thing … so here's an image sourced from China Central Television:

China hybrid electric truck

China's hybrid electric truck – Click to enlarge

The vehicle was reportedly built by CRRC Corporation Limited – a colossal Chinese manufacturer of rail vehicles and associated infrastructure – and billed as the first to come off its production lines.

It is unclear if there are many kilometers of overhead wiring awaiting the vehicle. However, yesterday also saw CRRC member company CRRC Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Research Institute Co. demonstrate a very similar-looking vehicle on a track designed to test and showcase its abilities.

YouTube Video

The vehicle depicted above apparently includes batteries, so is capable of powering its own motors in that mode.

But when the truck is near overhead wires, it can hook up to them in much the same way as an electric tram, train, or trolleybus. Or dodge 'em car, for that matter.

Chinese media reports describing the vehicle aren't clear on whether the vehicle can charge its batteries when overhead wires are available. They do state that the truck is expected to be used in mines and on the highway, suggesting a vision for certain environments to be wired. Reports also hint at autonomous operations.

The test track depicted in the video above is apparently China's first such effort devoted to this sort of electro-truck. It's mentioned as one way the Middle Kingdom will electrify its long-haul transport fleet and, by doing so, reduce its carbon emissions. ®

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