SuperTruck program gets more funding

US-developed initiative aims to encourage manufacturers to improve truck efficiency levels

SuperTruck program gets more funding
Freightliner developed a truck that significantly exceeded the efficiency requirements under the SuperTruck program. Photo: US Department of Energy.


The United States has pledged $US80 million to extend the SuperTruck fuel efficiency program.

Deputy assistant secretary for transportation within the Department of Energy Reuben Sarkar announced the SuperTruck 2 program at the Green Truck Summit in Indianapolis.

The new challenge is for the big manufacturers to improve Class 8 combination trucks, also known as 18-wheelers, freight efficiency figures by 100 per cent over the most efficient prime mover and trailer combination from 2009. The efficiency is measured on a miles/ton-gallon basis.

"Improving the efficiency of commercial trucks is critical to reducing our petroleum consumption, strengthening our clean energy economy, and further reducing our contributions to climate change," Sarkar says.

"This new funding will not only accelerate innovation but also foster rapid market adoption of new energy efficient vehicle technologies."

Sarkar also announced more than $12 million in funding for three new cost-shared projects focused on the research, development, and demonstration of plug-in electric powertrain technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

SuperTruck 2 projects are expected to use a variety of technology approaches to achieve performance targets, such as improvements in engine efficiency, drivetrain efficiency, aerodynamic drag, tire rolling resistance, and vehicle weight.  

The first SuperTruck program started in 2010 from a partially government funded research initiative that challenged America’s heavy duty truck makers to come up with a prime mover that improved freight efficiency by 50 per cent on 2009 figures.

To date, Cummins/Peterbilt and Freightliner have both built experimental Class 8 prime movers that have met or exceeded the efficiency targets set. In fact, the Freightliner Cascadia Supertruck exceeded its target by 115 per cent.

The program requires manufacturers to develop vehicles that can operate on the road in real world conditions.

Volvo and Navistar are yet to showcase vehicles as a part of the program.

The Supertruck 2 program is expected to spur more research into aerodynamic truck and trailer combinations, low rolling resistance drivelines and lower tare weights.

Cummins has already used the program to build a heat exchanger assisted driveline to create electricity.

Scavenged electricity can then be used to power auxiliary engine equipment like power steering, air conditioning units, or even to assist with propelling the vehicle.



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