LOUISVILLE, KY. Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) showed off the results of its involvement in the Department of Energy’s SuperTruck program at this year’s Mid America Trucking Show (MATS): a tractor that gets 12.2 miles per gallon (mpg), improves freight efficiency 115%, and achieves 50.2% engine brake thermal efficiency.
Diane Hames, DTNA’s GM of marketing and strategy, noted that the Freightliner-badged SuperTruck represents the culmination of five year’s work, funded by a $40 million DOE grant and a further $40 million on the OEM’s part.
Derek Rotz, DTNA’s principal investigator for the SuperTruck project, that a host of near-term and future technologies are incorporated into this unique vehicle including: Electrified auxiliaries, controlled power steering and air systems, active aerodynamics, a long-haul hybrid system, waste heat recovery and trailer solar panels.
Other strategies involved down speeding an engine crafted with a custom engine rating and using the predictive capabilities of intelligent powertrain management (IPM) components such as pre-loaded 3D digital maps to control shifting and “coasting” to further boost vehicle efficiency and fuel economy.
“Part of our process included taking a deep dive into different systems to analyze not only what might be possible, but obstacles as well,” he explained. “It’s a clean sheet design that optimizes tradeoffs, often balancing out conflicting goals … to provide more efficient ways to haul freight.”
One instance of that “balancing act” at work is the active “grille shutter,” which opens at low speeds to provide more air to cool the engine but close at highway speeds to improve the tractor’s aerodynamic profile.
Rotz added that DTNA also looked “beyond the truck itself” as part of its SuperTruck research, at issues such as improving tractor and trailer integration; an effort that provided two-thirds of the project’s freight efficiency gains.
He also noted that some of the components used to construct DTNA’s SuperTruck, due to regulatory or economic barriers, may not be commercially viable in the near future.
“It is our expectation that we will continue to review and refine what we’ve learned and achieved over the course of the SuperTruck initiative, and use that knowledge to bolster our leadership in fuel efficiency,” he stressed.
“By incorporating a mix of available technologies with future innovations, we were able to use the SuperTruck program to take the first steps in seeing what may be technically possible and commercially viable,” Rotz pointed out. “We still have a long road ahead to determine ultimately what will be successful and what will achieve the greatest efficiencies.”
Other product enhancements and services DTNA and its subsidiaries unveiled at MATS this year include:
- A new aerodynamic package for Freightliner Cascadia models dubbed “AeroSmart” that can be combined with the Eaton/Cummins joint SmartAdvantage powertrain;
- New options for Freightliner’s Cascadia and Cascadia Evolution models including: the Bose Ride system II truck seat suspension, Bendix’s SmarTire tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), and flat screen TV mount with antenna;
- The “FIT Step” in-cab cardio exercise device, crafted jointly by Freightliner and Rolling Strong as an augment to the Freightliner In-Cab Training (FIT) system;
- The official production start for the integrated Detroit powertrain unveiled last year that links together a Detroit DD15 engine with a new downspeed rating, a Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission (AMT), plus Detroit front and rear axles into one package;
- The launch of a new online parts cross reference tool developed by DTNA’s Alliance Truck Parts subsidiary that consolidates data from the top OEM and independent manufacturers, helping create a single point of access to allow customers to find the right Alliance part for their specific truck make and model;
- An expanded air hose line from Alliance that includes premium TAPER-Grip air hose grips, which protect the hose during gladhand connections on the tractor-trailer jumper hose and on the 3-in-1 AirPower line;
- A new campaign centered on the people at Elite Support Certified dealers, known as the “Champions of Uptime,” that seeks to “humanize” how uptime is achieved, in particular highlighting the continuous improvement coordinators (CICs) who work at Elite certified dealerships.