CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico -- Halfway through the SuperTruck program, a partnership between the US government and truck OEs aimed at moving the needle on truck innovation, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) today announced it has validated 25% freight efficiency improvement in real world testing conditions.
The company has completed Phase One of the SuperTruck program and feels that based on the results so far it should be able to get to the target of a 50% improvement in freight efficiency by the program's end in 2015, said TJ Reed, director of product strategy at a special press briefing here today.
"We feel extremely good about where we are going," Reed said.
Sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, DTNA and other project partners including national labs, universities and suppliers are examining opportunities that significantly improve freight efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of Class 8 trucks.
DTNA is using its 2009 Cascadia model as its baseline for improvement comparisons. Reed said he expects about 30% of the targeted improvement in freight efficiency to come from enhancements to the tractor-trailer combination and the remaining 20% from the engine.
DTNA is focusing on a multitude of areas that impact freight efficiency, including aerodynamics, powertrain integration, weight reduction, energy management, reduction of parasitic losses, electrification of components, and hybridization. To date, the program has worked through development and testing phases from computer modeling to component bench testing, and most recently, in vehicle validation.
“The validation of our results point mainly to improvements found in aerodynamics, smarter vehicle control systems and powertrain enhancements including hybridization,” said Dr. Maik Ziegler, director of advanced engineering, Daimler Trucks North America. “The reduction of parasitic losses, rolling resistance and vehicle weight are other essential parameters, which are necessary to reach such an aggressive target.”
Earlier in the day, Mark Lampert, senior Vice President of sales and marketing, said advances in fuel economy are beyond the point of OEs being able to excite the market by introducing one or two things that can boost fuel performance by a percentage point or two.
"It's a race towards how many things can you package together to get a significant gain in fuel economy," he said. For example, by employing such a package, which includes everything from a modified air dam and hood and bumper fill to cooling enhancements and a windshield seal on its Cascadia Evolutiion, DTNA is able to get 10.76 mpg in testing and better than 9 mpg in road trials.
Reed also pointed out that some of the improvements realized under the program are helping fleets boost their operations right now.
Many of the concepts developed with the SuperTruck such as an integrated powertrain, 6x2 optimization and enhanced aerodynamics have already been transferred to the market through recent introductions such as the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, which delivers top fuel economy performance.
"These aren't just science projects. We are actually delivering value today," Reed said.
DTNA began work on the SuperTruck program in 2010 and is collaborating with Detroit Diesel Corporation and other partners to meet the program objectives by 2015. DTNA is now producing the concept SuperTruck vehicle that will be the next phase of total system testing.