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 engine efficiency and a 70% 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 the goods transported in the country. Although they only make up 4% 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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