LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Daimler Trucks North America announced on Wednesday that its SuperTruck program has far exceed the 50 percent efficiency improvement goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Daimler was chosen, along with Navistar, Volvo and engine manufacturer Cummins, to participate in the DOE’s SuperTruck program. The cost-shared, public-private partnership was funded by a combination of grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, often referred to as the “Stimulus” bill, with research and development funds from participating companies to accelerate research and development of Class 8 vehicle fuel efficiency.
Daimler received $39.6 million under the program. The DOE goals were to achieve a minimum of 50 percent increase in efficiency as compared to 2010 model tractors, along with a 20 percent increase in engine efficiency.
The Daimler team blew away the goals, attaining a 115 percent efficiency increase and besting other manufacturer-recipients along the way.
The Daimler entry was tested on highway routes in Oregon and Texas, a city route in Portland, Oregon, and also underwent anti-idle testing in both hot and cold conditions.
Separate testing was conducted at Daimler’s Detroit facility to determine engine efficiency. The Daimler entry exceeded that goal as well.
The SuperTruck achieved 12.2 mpg running a 5-day, 312-mile round trip on Texas Interstate 35 at 65 mph with a gross vehicle weight of 65,000 lbs.
“We are thrilled with the positive results, and are honored to have been part of the program,” said Derek Rotz, principal investigator for SuperTruck, Daimler Trucks North America. “It is our expectation that we will continue to review and refine what we’ve learned and achieved over the course of the SuperTruck initiative, and use that knowledge to bolster our leadership in fuel efficiency.”
While the average driver won’t be seated in a SuperTruck anytime soon, they may benefit from some of the technologies used to build it. “By incorporating a mix of available technologies with future innovations, we were able to use the SuperTruck program to take the first steps in seeing what may be technically possible and commercially viable,” said Rotz. “We still have a long road ahead to determine ultimately what will be successful and what will achieve the greatest efficiencies.”
Daimler Trucks North America General Manager of Marketing and Strategy Diane Hames described some of the features that contribute to the truck’s fuel efficiency. An articulated grill consists of four panels that open when the engine needs additional cooling at lower speeds and close to decrease the vehicle’s aerodynamic profile at higher speeds.
Another innovation recovers energy from exhaust heat and uses it to help power the unit. Engine downspeeding, a development that allows the engine to idle while the vehicle goes downhill with the cruise control engaged, is incorporated into the design.
Some components of the SuperTruck, including some aerodynamic features and 6X2 Optimization, are already found in the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution. Others, such as Intelligent Powertrain Management (IPM) components like pre-loaded 3D digital maps to control shifting and eCoast capability could be incorporated at a future date.
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