In response to a 2009 challenge from the U.S. Department of Energy, Daimler Trucks North America has created what may be the most freight-efficient concept truck on the planet: the Freightliner SuperTruck.
Several years ago, the DOE launched what is known as the SuperTruck Challenge, a project in which participating automotive manufacturers are to create a prototype Class 8 tractor-trailer by 2015. Since these vehicles use around 20 percent of the fuel consumed in transportation within the U.S., the rules of the program dictate that each model demonstrate a 50-percent improvement in both freight and engine efficiency when compared to a 2009 baseline vehicle.
DTNA got to work on its new Freightliner in 2010, and received a $40 million grant from the DOE. Five years and eight million model-building CPU hours later, the company unveiled its long-haul transporter at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show, boasting a 115-percent improvement in freight efficiency and 50.2-percent engine-brake thermal efficiency.
Furthermore, after traveling 312 miles at 65 miles-per-hour on Interstate 35 in Texas, the 65,000-pound diesel-powered prototype logged an average of 12.2 mph. According to Freight that’s twice as much as what many of today’s trucks can average under similar circumstances.
To create the ultimate SuperTruck, Daimler used technologies such as a long-haul hybrid system, an engine waste heat recovery system that converts exhaust heat into energy, and a downsized 10.7-liter motor. Aerodynamic surfaces were also improved, thanks in part to rear-wheel fairings and an active grille that closes at highway speeds.
Daimler’s prototype is the second model to exceed the goal of DOE’s program, the first being Cummins and Peterbuilt’s SuperTruck, which was revealed in 2014 boasting a 76-percent increase in freight efficiency.