SuperTruck Flies to Future of Fuel-Efficiency at 10.7 mpg

COLUMBUS, IN — Developing a truck that could meet or exceed 10 mpg when fully loaded was considered unlikely, if not impossible, just a few years back, with most trucks averaging between 5.5 and 6.5 mpg. But in trucking, things move fast.

The newest Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck got to 10.7 mpg last month under real-world conditions, the companies announced Tuesday.

Based on today’s diesel prices, the SuperTruck would save about $27,000 per truck per year –for a long-haul truck traveling 120,000 miles per year.

“It would also translate into a more than 43-percent reduction in annual GHG emissions per truck,” the companies claimed in a joint statement.

The 579 model Pete with Cummins ISX15 engine was on display at Obama’s Tuesday announcement of new fuel-efficiency standards for trucks.

When compared to a 2009 baseline truck, the SuperTruck had a 75-percent increase in fuel economy, a 43-percent reduction in GHG and a 86-percent gain in freight efficiency in 24-hour.

This surpasses the SuperTruck program’s goal of a 68-percent increase in freight-efficiency, a trucking metric based on payload weight and fuel efficiency expressed in ton-miles per gallon.

The U.S. Department of Energy started the program in 2010 to make long-haul Class 8 vehicles more efficient. It focuses on efficient engine systems and vehicle technologies that meet current emissions and Class 8 tractor-trailer vehicle safety and regulatory requirements.

The truck went on a 312-mile run between Denton, TX and Vernon, TX, the same route used two years back when the first version of the Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck averaged just under 10 mpg.

The testing in both instances was done on a round-trip basis, to avoid any wind advantage that might have been gained by traveling one way. Each tractor-trailer had a combined gross weight of 65,000 lbs. running at 64 mph. A longer, 500-mile route between Denton and Memphis, TX, was also used to show the vehicle’s fuel-efficiency improvement over a 24-hour test cycle.

SuperTruck: powerful iron

Like man of steel Superman, the SuperTruck can cut through fuel consumption and GHG emissions. It has a clean diesel engine, advanced waste heat recovery system, aerodynamic tractor- trailer combination and a lithium ion battery-auxiliary power unit, to reduce engine idling.

The engine converts exhaust heat into power delivered to the crankshaft, and has electronic control software that uses route information to optimize fuel use. Lighter weighing components throughout the tractor-trailer also enable increased freight efficiency.

Eaton, also part of the Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck project team, is developing a next-generation automated transmission that improves fuel efficiency in heavy-duty trucks some more. Eaton’s working on a transmission that reduces engine-operating speeds. Cummins and Eaton jointly designed shift schedules and other features to yield further improved fuel efficiency.

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