Bulktransporter 551 Supertruck

Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck hits 10.7 MPG in latest trial

April 1, 2014
CUMMINS Inc and Peterbilt Motors Co, a division of PACCAR, announced February 18 that the latest version of their SuperTruck

Cummins Inc and Peterbilt Motors Co, a division of PACCAR, announced February 18 that the latest version of their SuperTruck demonstration tractor-trailer achieved 10.7 mpg last month under real-world driving conditions. The vehicle was on display the same day President Barack Obama announced a new push to boost medium- and heavy-duty truck fuel economy.

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, according to Cummins officials. However, with advances in engines, aerodynamics, and more, SuperTruck has proven that 10 mpg is attainable.

SuperTruck averaged a 75% increase in fuel economy, a 43% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and an 86% gain in freight efficiency in 24-hour, head-to-head testing against a 2009 baseline truck—all significant improvements.

The goal of the SuperTruck program, initiated by the US Department of Energy (DOE), is to improve long-haul Class 8 vehicle freight efficiency. The program focuses on advanced and highly efficient engine systems and vehicle technologies that meet prevailing emissions and Class 8 tractor-trailer vehicle safety and regulatory requirements. In addition to the benefits of reduced fuel consumption and petroleum usage, the improvements in engine system efficiency will deliver a significant reduction in GHG emissions.

Cummins has partnered with Peterbilt Motors Co for the SuperTruck project. Objectives have included development and demonstration of a highly efficient and clean diesel engine, an advanced waste heat recovery system, an aerodynamic tractor and trailer combination, and a lithium ion battery-auxiliary power unit to reduce engine idling.

The Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck uses the Peterbilt Model 579. The engine, based on the Cummins ISX15, converts exhaust heat into power delivered to the crankshaft, and has electronic control software that uses route information to optimize fuel use. SuperTruck also includes chassis refinements, improvements in the aerodynamics, and other significant advances in the engine. Weight reduction throughout the tractor-trailer also enables increased freight efficiency.

Eaton Corp also is working on the project team and is developing a next-generation automated transmission that improves fuel efficiency in heavy-duty trucks. Eaton’s contribution includes the design, development and prototyping of an advanced transmission that facilitates reduced engine-operating speeds. Cummins and Eaton jointly designed shift schedules and other features to yield further improved fuel efficiency.

This demonstration of the Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck has exceeded DOE goals for freight efficiency—a key trucking metric based on payload weight and fuel efficiency expressed in ton-miles per gallon. The SuperTruck achieved an 86% improvement in freight efficiency and a 75% fuel economy improvement over a 24-hour test cycle in December 2013. The program goal was a 68% freight-efficiency increase over a 2009 vintage baseline vehicle of the same weight traveling along the same route.

The Class 8 Peterbilt Model 579, powered by a Cummins ISX15 engine, achieved 10.7 mpg during testing last month between Denton TX and Vernon TX. The 312-mile route was the same one used two years ago, when the first version of the Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck averaged just under 10 mpg.

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

The increase in fuel economy for the Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck would save about $27,000 annually per truck based on today’s diesel fuel prices for a long-haul truck traveling 120,000 miles per year. It would also translate into a more than 43% reduction in annual GHG emissions per truck. The potential savings in fuel and GHGs are enormous, given that there are about 2 million registered tractor-trailers on US roads today, according to the American Trucking Associations.

Cummins is a prime contractor leading one of four teams under the DOE’s SuperTruck project, one of several initiatives that are part of the 21st Century Truck Partnership. The partnership is a public-private initiative to further stimulate innovation in the trucking industry through sponsoring by government agencies, companies, national laboratories and universities. Cummins, Peterbilt and their program partners will have invested $38.8 million in private funds over the four-year life of the SuperTruck program when it draws to a close later this year. The project received critical support in matching grants from the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Program.    ♦