Department of Energy

Video: SuperTruck Barreling Down the Road of Sustainability

May 14, 2015

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Energy 101: Heavy Duty Vehicle Efficiency

New Energy 101 video shows how the Energy Department's SuperTruck initiative is making Class 8 trucks more fuel efficient and less expensive to operate. | Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy video.

Twelve miles per gallon. While that might not seem very high, it’s double the fuel efficiency of typical heavy-duty tractor-trailers -- also known as Class 8 trucks -- which haul about 80 percent of the nation’s goods.

This improved fuel efficiency is a big breakthrough for the Energy Department’s SuperTruck initiative, which aims to boost freight efficiency by 50 percent compared to a baseline vehicle. One SuperTruck partner, Daimler Trucks North America, recently shattered this goal with their Freightliner truck.

Heavy-duty trucks consume about 20 percent of America’s total transportation fuel. This means improving the fuel efficiency of these vehicles can go a long way to reducing our nation’s dependency on oil and lowering carbon emissions.

Engineers and researchers from the four separate SuperTruck teams are using several technologies to make heavy-duty trucks more sustainable. Here are a few examples:

  • Advanced combustion engines burn fuel more efficiently because it’s injected precisely -- and at very high pressure -- into combustion chambers.
  • Aerodynamic features give SuperTrucks streamlined bodies, which cut through wind and reduce drag.
  • Advanced materials reduce overall vehicle weight.
  • Auxiliary power units cut idling time by using rechargeable batteries to provide electric power for cooling and heating the cabin and cargo, rather than running the truck engine itself overnight.

If all Class 8 trucks used SuperTruck technologies, we could lower oil use by an estimated 300 millions of barrels per year and individual truck operators could save about $20,000 a year on fuel.

Watch the video above to see how the Energy Department is working to make Class 8 trucks more fuel-efficient. You can also visit our Vehicle Technologies Office website to learn more about what we’re doing to deploy sustainable highway transportation technologies that cut carbon pollution and drive economic growth.