SuperTruck II: Let’s do more than wait

The Department of Energy is once again investing big money on future trucking technology. It recently announced an $80 million investment in SuperTruckII. The goal of this program is to increase freight efficiency.

The first SuperTruck initiative featured four teams that demonstrated gains from aerodynamic devices, low rolling resistance tires, engines, waste heat recovery and highly efficient combustion engines.

In announcing this latest initiative, DOE’s deputy assistant secretary of transportation, Reuben Sarkar, said, “Our goal is that the technologies in SuperTruckII will continue to push the boundaries and pay particular close attention to what’s cost-effective in the marketplace.”

Let’s hope that those involved in SuperTruckII find ways to make trucks more efficient. But while they are working on that outcome, we should do more than just sit back and wait.

As an industry we need to be addressing spec’ing vehicles for the loads they will be carrying and roads they will be traveling on, to training drivers on how to operate their vehicles in a manner that gets the most out of a gallon of fuel, to keeping trucks well maintained so that they will operate at peak efficiency. While skipping a PM service may appear to save a bit of time and money, the truth is, it will cost you in the long run.

What I would like to see happening with some of the savings fleets are seeing as a result of technology improvements — and are likely to continue to see as a result of efforts like SuperTruckII — is an increased investment in maintenance. This could involve hiring more techs, investing in maintenance management software, buying laptops or other technology that allows PMIs to be completed electronically, adding maintenance bays, and investing in mobile maintenance trucks.

While we wait for the next big breakthrough in fuel efficiency from programs like SuperTruckII, there are a myriad of ways we can bolster our maintenance efforts to keep trucks on the road and maximize their fuel efficiency.

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