Cummins and Peterbilt have created a new demonstration tractor trailer that boasts a 54-percent increase in fuel economy over current trucks. This particular Class 8 Peterbilt 587 uses a high-efficiency Cummins ISX15 engine and managed to average 9.9 miles per gallon over 11 runs over the 312-mile route between Fort Worth and Vernon, TX with a gross combined weight of 65,000 pounds. For comparison's sake, most modern trucks manage between 5.5 and 6.5 mpg. For most long-haul truck drivers, an increase in fuel economy of 54 percent would equate to a savings of around $25,000 per year at current diesel prices.

The SuperTruck uses lightweight materials, an efficient engine and aerodynamic improvements to net its fuel economy increase. Peterbilt also worked with Eaton to develop a special driveline with fewer parasitic losses and better gearing, and the truck manufacturer says many of the features demonstrated on this particular truck may show up on production models in the near future. Check out the full press release below for more information.
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SuperTruck' Yields 54 Percent Increase in Fuel Economy

Cummins and Peterbilt display the new 'SuperTruck' achieving 54 percent increase in fuel economy.

COLUMBUS, IND. – Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) and Peterbilt Motors Company, a division of PACCAR (Nasdaq: PCAR), released test results today showing their demonstration tractor-trailer achieved a 54 percent increase in fuel economy, averaging nearly 10 miles per gallon (mpg) under real world driving conditions.

The "SuperTruck" developed by the two companies features a higher-efficiency engine and an aerodynamic tractor-trailer that significantly reduces drag. The truck also includes a system that converts exhaust heat into power delivered to the crankshaft, electronic controls that use route information to optimize fuel use, tires with lower rolling resistence and lighter-weight material throughout.

The Class 8 Peterbilt 587 powered by a Cummins ISX15 engine averaged 9.9 mpg during testing last fall on U.S. Route 287 between Fort Worth and Vernon, Texas. The testing was conducted over 11 runs meeting SAE International test standards along a 312-mile route. The tractor-trailer had a combined gross weight of 65,000 lbs.

Today's long-haul trucks typically achieve between 5.5 and 6.5 mpg. The 54 percent increase in fuel economy would save about $25,000 annually based on today's diesel fuel prices for a long-haul truck traveling 120,000 miles per year. It would also translate into a 35 percent reduction in annual greenhouse gases per truck.

The potential savings in fuel and greenhouse gases are enormous, with about 2 million registered tractor-trailers on U.S. roads today, according to The American Trucking Association.

In addition to the fuel economy improvements, the truck also demonstrated a 61 percent improvement in freight efficiency during testing compared to a baseline truck driving the same route. That significantly exceeded the 50 percent SuperTruck program goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy. Freight efficiency is an important metric in the transportation industry that is based on payload weight and fuel efficiency expressed in ton-miles per gallon.

"Many of the technologies we are testing on the engine and truck will be integral parts of the trucks of tomorrow," said David Koeberlein, Principal Investigator for the SuperTruck program at Cummins. "We are focused on developing innovations that meet and exceed the needs of our customers, while helping to create a cleaner, healthier and safer environment."

Cummins personnel have been focused on the engine and its integration with the powertrain. They have been working with several other companies and research institutions to develop numerous changes in the combustion system as well as advances to reduce internal friction and so-called "parasitic power" – excess power the engine needs to run such things as lube and coolant pumps and air compressors.

In addition to the truck's exterior, Peterbilt and its partners have been working on improvements in the drivetrain, the idle management system, weight reduction and vehicle climate control. Eaton's advanced transmission facilitates further engine downspeeding for additional fuel economy benefits.

"Aerodynamics has been a significant contributor to the efficiency gains," said Scott Newhouse, Senior Assistant Chief Engineer of Product Development at Peterbilt. "We are very pleased with what our team has been able to accomplish using a comprehensive tractor-trailer approach."

Cummins is a prime contractor leading one of four vertical teams under the Department of Energy's SuperTruck project. SuperTruck is one of several initiatives under the 21st Century Truck Partnership, which is a public-private partnership founded to further stimulate innovation in the trucking industry through the sponsoring 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 their SuperTruck program, which started in 2010, with critical support coming through awarded matching grants from the Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program.

Testing will continue in 2013 on a new Peterbilt 579 that Cummins and Peterbilt are confident will take what has been achieved so far to even higher levels. The testing will address use of the tractor-trailer over a 24-hour period; including periods when drivers are at rest but still need power for such things as air conditioning and small appliances.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 97 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      That is AWESOME. Get that thing in production. Well at least get the most cost-effective parts of the project in production.
      Drakkon
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would like to see the fairings on the rear wheels and trailer set just to keep the road spray down in the wet. How many times on the interstate have you had to look down at the yellow line and pray there is no one on the other side of that wall of water?
        Steven Smith
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Drakkon
        If you're looking down at the yellow line, you're obviously passing the truck, and if you can't see, why are you doing so? Anything to make a trucker's mandatory DOT safety inspections more difficult, and cause more expensive damage when a tire blows.
      barkeep
      • 1 Year Ago
      Living in a city where the trucking industry is essential to our local economy, I can see these trucks rolling around in the next few years. Some trucking companies here have their trailers fitted with side skirts already, which I'm sure has a vast improvement in fuel economy.
      alistair.dillingham
      • 1 Year Ago
      looks much better too!
      Bud
      • 1 Year Ago
      Also... http://img3.photographersdirect.com/img/13725/wm/pd2375704.jpg
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've heard that most modern rigs get usually around 7 mpg fully loaded, even as much as 8. Between 5.5 and 6.5 sounds low. Perhaps that's what they typically get on this particular strech of road. Going from even 8 to 9.90 mpg, nevertheless, is still substantial. I wonder, though, how long those low hanging fairings would last.
        Tom
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        Well I can tell you that. I'm sitting in a cab of a 2011 Volvo and on average according to the gauge it get 6.7 mpg
      William
      • 1 Year Ago
      Truckers aren't making enough money - particularly those that are owner operators. Many are quitting the business. Saving $25,000 in fuel would be great but it likely would be offset by the increased cost and maintenance. But on this subject see also "ePower trucks." A new approach to a hybrid truck drivetrain.
      Greg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Still nowhere near as efficient as cargo trains.
        Tom
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Greg
        correct me if I'm wrong but a lot of freight shippid by truck is done so because a train can't just pull up to a store and unload easily
          Tom
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Tom
          Yea I'm aware of what intermodel is. But most of the freight shipped by train is not intermodel. Also if everything was shipped by train then their would be a huge backlog. My point is while yes a semi is no where as efficient as trains. A semi is needed all the same thus will remain all the same.
          dartingd
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Tom
          Kind of. We don't use Intermodal (where the train takes the cargo for a truck to pick up) often because of convenience. If you don't have an area near you where you can pick up that cargo it's fairly useless. I really don't feel that pulling up to a store has anything to do with it. Those containers fit on the truck, which in turn pulls up to the store to off-load.
      ferps
      • 1 Year Ago
      Still nowhere close to trains. If oil prices keep rising (and they will), I suspect a lot of freight will switch to train.
      jebibudala
      • 1 Year Ago
      These MPG's are atrocious. I just don't understand why semi trucks just don't use Prius engines.
        Alex G
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jebibudala
        Why so many down votes? I thought the joke was funny :\
        Tom
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jebibudala
        Because a Prius engine wouldn't move a semi 10 feet
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wonder why they haven't done this 50+ years ago? one of the largest factor in fuel economy on these vehicles is just simple aerodynamics. Amazing what happens when you try? lol. Hats off, anyway.
        Kuro Houou
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        More then likely it was due to our gas being so cheap.. they didn't think it was necessary. Now that the world is changing and gas is getting more expensive its time to come up with new ideas. Just a matter of engineering cost at the time vs gas prices at the time. I know they have been working on aero for years though, some trucks on the road now incorporate some of the pieces this truck has.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Kuro Houou
          That's unfortunate because we've blown through half of our reserves of oil in just about a hundred years. Imagine if our main form of cargo transport was twice as efficient; it would have cost the trucking industry ( and the consumer! ) a lot less, oil would be cheaper, and we'd have less pollution if this were put in motion decades ago when it should have been. Just kinda blows my mind to see low hanging fruit not be picked. Aerodynamics means lower fuel bills which translates to cold hard cash. Even if you don't care about the oil situation or the environment, it would have seemed to make sense a long time ago.
        Bud
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        It has been done in the UK with a Marks & Spencers semi 20 years ago. I don't know why these things are not adopted earlier myself. Very similar Aero package etc. I have video if interested. I have to believe a lot of NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome is at fault, we could be so, so ,so much further ahead if people put there ego's aside. Check out my friend John Piper (ex Williams F1) Piper Design. http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/523/piperij1.jpg/sr=1
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