Fleet Ops: Fuel Efficiency
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Daimler Hits SuperTruck Goals a Year Early

PORTLAND, OR— Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has hit its SuperTruck targets a year ahead of schedule, the company has reported.  

“We’re pleased that we achieved our SuperTruck goals ahead of schedule, however our work isn’t done,” said Derek Rotz, principal investigator for SuperTruck, DTNA. “In our final year of the SuperTruck program, we will continue to make enhancements that will not only improve efficiency, but will steer the course for our industry.”

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) started the SuperTruck program in 2010 to make long-haul Class 8 vehicles more efficient. The five-year program focuses on improving freight efficiency, reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of Class 8 trucks.

“The SuperTruck program has served as a great opportunity to deepen our research and development efforts, with the ultimate benefit being to our industry and our customers,” said Dr. Maik Ziegler, director of advanced engineering for DTNA. “This collaborative effort underscores our commitment to developing forward-thinking solutions that help our customers realize the lowest real cost of ownership.”

DTNA said it has worked with project partners – including Detroit, national labs, universities and suppliers- to exceed program goals by designing a heavy-duty Class 8 truck with over 50 percent improvement in overall freight efficiency over a 2007 baseline tractor-trailer combination.

Rotz said DTNA did a series of fuel efficiency, HVAC and thermal tests on a prototype vehicle, including two different on-highway routes in Oregon and Texas, which measured 52 percent and 61 percent fuel economy improvement, respectively. The combined tractor-trailer weighed in at 1,500 pounds less than the baseline. Plans to complete and test a final demonstration vehicle with additional fuel and weight savings measures are scheduled for late 2014.

DTNA has already introduced many of the concepts used on the SuperTruck, such as an integrated powertrain, 6x2 optimization, advanced technologies and enhanced aerodynamics, in products such as the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution and the new integrated Detroit Powertrain. New features, such as a downsized engine coupled with a hybrid electric powertrain and a waste heat recovery system further contributed to the success of the SuperTruck project.

Including DTNA, four major truck OEMs were awarded multi-million dollar grants by the DOE.

Volvo and Mack are emphasizing “downspeeding” and have introduced packages using low-rpm cruising speeds with automated mechanical transmissions.

Navistar International is also using downspeeding and to achieve it offers several products that take gearbox operation out of driver’s hands.

Kenworth and Peterbilt have been working with Eaton to improve operation of the UltraShifts and have also tweaked their Paccar MX-13 diesel to use less fuel. 

With files from Tom Berg. 

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