Last week, the Vehicle Technologies Office’s (VTO) SuperTruck project broke another record in efficiency for Class 8 tractor-trailers. While the original SuperTruck goal was to improve freight efficiency by 50 percent compared to a baseline vehicle, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced that their Freightliner vehicle achieved a 115 percent freight efficiency improvement, measured in ton-miles/gallon. The Freightliner Supertruck achieves 12.2 miles per gallon (MPG).
Increasing the efficiency of Class 8 trucks is essential because they haul 80 percent of the goods in the U.S. and use about 20 percent of the fuel consumed in transportation. VTO established the SuperTruck program in 2009 to explore how teams of truck manufacturers and suppliers could design and optimize a variety of high-efficiency technologies together in a single system. In addition to overall increases in freight efficiency, VTO set a goal of a 50 percent improvement in engine efficiency, which DTNA also met.
DTNA achieved this efficiency breakthrough by using a spectrum of technologies including an advanced engine, highly engineered aerodynamic surfaces, wide-based low-rolling resistance tires, a long-haul hybrid system, and engine waste heat recovery. Many of the technologies build on VTO's research in a number of areas such as advanced combustion engines, lightweight materials, and parasitic loss reduction.
DTNA was actually the second SuperTruck team to exceed the goal. In 2014, Cummins and Peterbuilt unveiled their SuperTruck, which demonstrated a 76 percent increase in freight efficiency. VTO is also working with Navistar and Volvo, which are on separate project schedules and both on track to meet the SuperTruck goal. VTO chose all four teams through a competitive process. The industry partners are matching VTO funding.