Truck makers and suppliers are narrowing their focus on technologies that work as well on the road as they do in the lab as the U.S. Department of Energy’s five-year Super Truck II program reaches the halfway point.
The DOE picked five teams with the goal of making heavy-duty trucks twice as fuel-efficient as they were in 2009. The goal of the first Super Truck program was improving freight efficiency by 50 percent. Three of four Super Truck I industry teams exceeded that goal by 2016.
Power-management company Eaton Corp. is providing several technologies for better fuel economy and reduced emissions to the Super Truck II teams:
- A high-efficiency transmission that recovers wasted heat while enabling coasting with the engine off.
- A 48-volt mild-hybrid accessory drive that charges the vehicle’s batteries and runs the air conditioner and other accessories. It can keep a sleeper cab comfortable without running the engine on idle.
- Precise exhaust gas recirculation controllers that save fuel and reduce emissions at the same time.
“This is a great opportunity for Eaton technologies to contribute,” said Mihai Dorobantu, Eaton Vehicle Group director of technology planning and government affairs.
Super Truck II has made significant progress, said Michael Berube, director of the DOE Office of Vehicle Technologies. His office put up half of the$100 million for the program.
“The work is well on its way,” he said at the recent Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. “I am very encouraged. I think a year from now we’ll have a lot more we can show.”
The five team leads and their projects include Cummins Inc., which is developing a new, more efficient engine and advanced drivetrain and vehicle technologies.
Navistar International Corp. is developing a vehicle and powertrain with electrified engine components for higher engine efficiency and a reengineered cab to reduce wind resistance. Navistar is the first customer for an AxleTech electronic axle that includes an electric motor and power electronics.
Daimler Trucks North America is developing a tractor-trailer combination that includes active aerodynamics, cylinder deactivation, hybridization, and the electrification of accessories. Aerodynamic improvements are options on the 2020 Freightliner Cascadia, which improves fuel efficiency 5 percent over the 2019 model.
Volvo Trucks North America is developing a tractor-trailer combination with lightweight cab that uses alternative engine designs. The Swedish truck maker last September revealed Vera, an autonomous truck concept that operates in ports or warehouse districts.
Paccar division Kenworth Truck Co., which joined Super Truck II in 2018, is working with United Parcel Service to improve aerodynamics, engine and powertrain efficiencies on its T680 tractor Paccar MX engine. UPS is determining what is commercially feasible and acceptable to drivers.