Think 10 miles per gallon, and your mind may harken back to muscle cars along the line of the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard. Apply that figure to a semi-truck, though, and we're talking actual fuel-efficiency gains. That's what the four-year-old SuperTruck program shot for, and two of its four teams have already hit that goal.

The SuperTruck program launched in 2010 with four teams led by Cummins, Daimler, Navistar and Volvo, and the goal of the US Department of Energy-funded program was to raise fuel-efficiency for Class 8 tractor-trailer trucks by 50 percent from the typical six miles-per-gallon range. Such gains by the industry would mean 300 million fewer barrels of oil consumed in the US each year and $30 billion less spent on fuel annually.

With President Obama in February outlining details for improved heavy-duty truck fuel efficiency standards and groups like the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) joining in, such fuel-efficiency gains are in the works. In fact, already, the Cummins and Daimler teams have already boosted fuel economy by more than 50 percent. Waste-heat recovery systems, more efficient transmissions and better aerodynamics are among the improvements truck makers are applying to boost fuel economy. Check out the Department of Energy's press release below.
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SuperTruck Making Leaps in Fuel Efficiency

This Class 8 tractor-trailer by heavy-duty manufacturers Cummins and Peterbilt reaches more than 10 miles per gallon under real world driving conditions. The truck was on display at the Energy Department today.

Pedestrians passing by the Energy Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. today saw quite a strange sight – an ultra-modern 18-wheeler, Class 8 tractor-trailer parked outside our building! This is no ordinary truck – it's called a SuperTruck, a demonstration vehicle that is part of the Energy Department's SuperTruck initiative. This program's goal is to develop tractor-trailers that are 50% more efficient than baseline models by 2015.

The truck on display, developed by heavy-duty manufacturers Cummins and Peterbilt, has exceeded this goal. Since 2010, the truck has demonstrated a 20 increase in freight efficiency, reaching over 10 miles per gallon under real world driving conditions on a Class 8 tractor-trailer. In comparison, an average Class 8 truck typically gets 5.8 miles to the gallon. This accomplishment is so impressive that on Tuesday, the SuperTruck served as a backdrop to President Obama's announcement of new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

Improving the efficiency of long-haul tractor-trailers is one of the many ways that the United States can reduce the amount of petroleum we use and the carbon pollution we produce. Commercial trucks, which include Class 8 vehicles, haul as much as 80 of vehicles on the road, they use about 20% of the fuel consumed.

Increasing these vehicles' efficiency can also benefit our overall economy. In general, the long-haul truck fleet is quick to adopt technologies that improve fuel efficiency and lower costs for owner-operators. Based on the current price of diesel, these technologies should save truck operators more than $20,000 per year on fuel costs.

Lowering these trucks' fuel costs reduces the amount companies need to spend on transportation and can allow retailers to charge less for their goods. If all Class 8 trucks in the U.S. were SuperTrucks, the country would consume nearly 300 million fewer barrels of oil and spend nearly $30 billion less on fuel each year.

SuperTruck also supports the Energy Department's Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative – a broad effort to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and competitiveness. Companies will integrate these technologies into trucks built right here in the U.S. When Cummins and Peterbilt adopt these fuel-saving technologies in their product lines, they will be manufacturing them in their facilities in Indiana and Texas.

In addition to Cummins, there are three other companies that have been working with the Energy Department since 2009 to develop SuperTrucks. Each company has its own unique approach, but at least 20% of the efficiency improvements will come from advances in the trucks' internal combustion engines. Companies may also improve the vehicles' aerodynamics, reduce their weight, reduce rolling resistance with high-efficiency tires, and install equipment that limits idle time.

From the Energy Department to the highway, SuperTrucks are set to improve our country's economic, environmental, and energy sustainability.


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  • 16 Comments
      FCI Fincl Serv
      • 13 Hours Ago
      In order to counter falling fuel revenues, the petroleum producers will raise prices!
      • 13 Hours Ago
      I see that they covered the rear wheels of the trailer very well, so why didn't they cover the rear wheels like that on the rig as well? I used to drive and I do not see why they couldn't do those as well.
      • 13 Hours Ago
      must be rough chaining up and the company is only going to pay 45 min. on or off and you know Or. wants every wheel chained.
      Luciano
      • 13 Hours Ago
      I don't understand why nobody talks to Colani. :/
      goodoldgorr
      • 13 Hours Ago
      Im minding if it will hurt the sales of these new natural gas semi-trucks that are supposed to come on the market. I tought of investing on clean energy fuels (clne,+0.85%) and Westport innovations (wprt, -1.28%) the big names on natural gas trucking but I preferred to wait and see because it is a slow process.
        Neil Blanchard
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        All the aerodynamic improvements done on this truck (or the AirFlow Bullet Truck)) will help on all trucks, no matter how they are powered.
      bahill99
      • 13 Hours Ago
      Uhh, this press release is from FOUR months ago... http://energy.gov/eere/articles/supertruck-making-leaps-fuel-efficiency
        brotherkenny4
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @bahill99
        You must remember that the guys in the trucking industry are excruciating slow minded. These types of trailer and truck improvements have been in the works and many available for decades, yet the adoption has been extremely slow. It's because the owners of trucking businesses are extremely slow mentally. So, cut ABG some slack, the guys who should be interested in this won't ever notice if the story is from last week or last decade. To be truthful too, it doesn't matter if it is because their GOP leaders have told them that green is unamerican and by the help of God they won't do anything to help any commie green crazy socialist claptrap garbage like this. They'd rather burn their cash as fuel like they have been told by their leaders and friends in the GOP.
        ElectricAvenue
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @bahill99
        Autobloggreen: we obsessively cover the green scene... from four months ago.
      • 13 Hours Ago
      what happens when you blow a drive tire now you need a new fender. and how long to insp. that tlr. Pay us a $1.00 a mi. and we will all drive 55 and save fuel.
      John Hansen
      • 13 Hours Ago
      Come on now, be civil. There are plenty of Republicans who fully support improvements in fuel efficiency, and now you've just pushed them a little further away. It feels good to vent, but it doesn't help convince anybody of your viewpoint.
      paulwesterberg
      • 13 Hours Ago
      A more streamlined semi, AirFlow BulletTruck, got 13.4 mpg on a cross country trip: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1089506_is-the-bullettruck-what-semis-will-look-like-in-the-future
        BipDBo
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Yeah, but to do that, they had to set cruise speed to 55mph. Also, I'm not sure their their bodywork, especially the very low front end is drivable in a many areas. The bullet truck looks like it did mostly aerodynamic modifications whereas the Supertruck used mostly off the shelf body and add-ons and worked to innovate the drivetrain. It would be interesting to see them tested in an equal test, along with cost comparison.
      Rotation
      • 13 Hours Ago
      This is very welcome news. Because despite what the Union of Concerned Scientists might think, we cannot ignore the reality that we do need trucks in this country. We're going to be trucking stuff, and we might as well do it more efficiently.
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