With help from the Energy Department, Class 8 trucks recently hit a record of 12 miles per gallon (mpg) freight efficiency. This milestone is actually a 115% increase in freight efficiency (which includes both fuel used and weight hauled) over typical Class 8 trucks, which typically average 5.8 miles to the gallon!  As Class 8 trucks haul as much as 80% of the nation’s goods, improving their efficiency is essential to increasing energy security and reducing carbon pollution. 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.

The automotive breakthrough was made through the Energy Department’s SuperTruck Initiative, which competitively awarded four freight vehicle manufacturers funding in 2009.  The initiative originally had the goal to boost freight efficiency by 50% over baseline tractor trailers by 2015.

So far, two out of four of the teams have completed their vehicles, with the most recent SuperTruck beating the 2015 goal by a substantial amount. This vehicle was built by SuperTruck partner Daimler Trucks North America, which achieved a 115% freight efficiency improvement over the baseline with their Freightliner truck achieving 12.2 mpg. The achievement comes just a year after Peterbilt and Cummins also broke the goal with their 10.7 mpg long-haul truck. The Navistar and Volvo teams are still completing their current designs and on track to meet the goal.

Combining multiple technologies, the researchers and engineers on these teams are revolutionizing these Class 8 trucks to increase efficiency. Changes include highly-efficient internal combustion engines; more aerodynamic body designs; advanced lightweight materials that reduce vehicle weight;  hybridization; and the addition of auxiliary power units which cut idling time.

You can 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. 

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.