Why Isn't India Investing in OCL Technology to Power Long-Haul Electric Trucks?

  • By Admin
  • 09-05-2024

As nations across the globe gear up for a transition towards sustainable transportation, the trucking industry stands at a crucial crossroads. In India, a country known for its bustling road freight sector, the conversation around cleaner alternatives to diesel-powered trucks is gaining momentum. However, amidst discussions on battery electric trucks and hydrogen-powered alternatives, one question looms large: Why is India not investing in overhead cable line (OCL) technology to power long-haul electric trucks?

Overview of Electric Trucking Options

Before delving into the specifics of OCL technology, it's essential to understand the landscape of electric trucking options available today. At present, the two primary contenders in the market are battery electric trucks and hydrogen trucks.

Battery electric trucks have emerged as frontrunners in the race towards electrification, offering a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to traditional diesel-powered vehicles. However, they come with their own set of challenges, including limitations on range and the weight of batteries, which can significantly impact their load carrying capacity.

On the other hand, hydrogen trucks, powered either by hydrogen fuel cells or combustion, present another viable option. While they share similar range limitations with battery electric trucks, they offer the advantage of faster refueling times.

Challenges Faced by Battery Electric Trucks

Battery electric trucks, despite their potential environmental benefits, face significant hurdles in achieving widespread adoption. The foremost challenge lies in their limited range, which restricts their suitability for long-haul transportation routes. Additionally, the weight of batteries per kWh remains a critical concern, as it directly impacts the truck's load capacity and overall efficiency.

Introduction to Overhead Cable Line (OCL) Technology

In light of these challenges, OCL technology emerges as a promising solution for powering long-haul electric trucks. The concept is simple yet ingenious: install overhead cables along major highways, allowing trucks to draw power directly from the grid while in motion. To mitigate range anxiety and accommodate the last leg of the journey, trucks can incorporate a small on-board battery for the final 100 kilometres or so.

Advantages of OCL Technology for Long-Haul Electric Trucks

The benefits of adopting OCL technology for long-haul electric trucks are manifold:

1. Cost Reduction: By harnessing power from overhead cables, the upfront cost of purchasing an electric truck is significantly reduced, making it a more economically viable option for fleet operators.

2. Infrastructure Utilization: Existing infrastructure, particularly in the form of overhead cables used in the railway sector, can be repurposed for powering electric trucks, minimizing additional infrastructure costs.

3. Utilizing Existing Expertise: India boasts considerable expertise and scale in laying overhead cables, thanks to its extensive railway network. Leveraging this existing knowledge base can expedite the implementation of OCL technology.

4. Improved Lane Discipline: Since trucks primarily travel in designated lanes, the installation of overhead cables can help enforce lane discipline, enhancing safety on Indian highways.

5. High Capacity Utilization: Given India's heavy reliance on road freight, the high capacity utilization of OCL technology ensures optimal efficiency and resource allocation.

Potential Risks and Considerations

Despite its potential, the adoption of OCL technology for long-haul electric trucks is not without risks. Chief among these is the dependency on advancements in battery technology. While ongoing efforts to reduce battery prices and weight may render OCL infrastructure redundant in the future, the immediate benefits it offers cannot be overlooked.


In conclusion, the implementation of overhead cable line technology presents a compelling solution to India's long-haul electric trucking conundrum. By combining the efficiency of electric propulsion with the convenience of overhead power supply, OCL technology addresses key challenges faced by battery electric trucks while leveraging India's existing infrastructure and expertise.