Integrated from the roof line to the pavement and front bumper to the rear ICC bar.

 


This year at the Mid America Truck Show, I had the opportunity to step inside Freightliner’s SuperTruck. This unique truck was unveiled to the media at a press event in the Freightliner booth on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. I was thrilled to take an up close look at this incredible concept vehicle which will help shape the future of freight transportation.


I met with some of the top engineers who worked on developing the SuperTruck. We discussed the level of detail in which they researched and implemented many of the new technologies added to this truck. Some of their ideas came not only from a look into the future but a look back into the past as well. The grill shutters and the unpowered tag axle are just two examples of ideas pulled from history. Freightliner has already implemented some of these features into the new Cascadia Evolution. Two examples are the Cascadia Evolution Aerodynamic Package and the Detroit Integrated Power-Train.


Along with the SuperTruck, Freightliner included what could be called the SuperTrailer which was added to enhance the fuel efficiency of a combined tractor/trailer combination. Many of the same principles that I’m already using such as side skirts and a trailer tail were added to promote fuel efficiency. What we are looking at here is an integrated truck, power-train and trailer.


I wanted to include the press release article from Freightliner as I didn’t want to miss anything about this amazing truck. It will be interesting to see how long it will be before many of these innovative technologies become main stream.






LOUISVILLE, Ky. – March 25, 2015 –Daimler Trucks North America’s (DTNA) SuperTruck program has achieved 115 percent freight efficiency improvement – surpassing the Department of Energy (DOE) program’s goal of 50 percent improvement and exhibiting the best results of all reporting OEMs. The SuperTruck was unveiled today at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in the Freightliner Trucks booth (#30125).
To validate the lofty targets set by the DOE, DTNA engineers conducted a series of tests. To measure freight efficiency, DTNA ran vehicle testing on highway routes in Oregon and Texas, one city route in Portland, Ore., and anti-idle testing in both a cold chamber and hot chamber. These tests resulted in a combined 115 percent freight efficiency improvement over a 2009 baseline truck.
Testing was also conducted at the DTNA Detroit engineering facility to demonstrate engine efficiency by achieving 50.2 percent engine brake thermal efficiency.
The final SuperTruck demonstrator ran a five-day, 312-mile round trip route on Texas Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Dallas, at a weight of 65,000 lbs GVWR at a speed of 65 mph, where it achieved an average result of 12.2 mpg.
“We are thrilled with the positive results, and are honored to have been part of the program,” said Derek Rotz, principal investigator for SuperTruck, Daimler Trucks North America. “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.”
Solutions of Tomorrow Today
Several commercially viable technologies developed in conjunction with the SuperTruck program have been introduced in DTNA production vehicles, including 6x2 optimization and the aerodynamic components found on the Freightliner Cascadia® Evolution and the integrated Detroit Powertrain.
Strategies such as downspeeding 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 eCoast events also increased efficiency and economy.  
“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,” said Rotz. “We still have a long road ahead to determine ultimately what will be successful and what will achieve the greatest efficiencies.”
One key initiative was exploring how the tractor and trailer should be designed and optimized as a single system, not separate units. DTNA engineers also examined the impact and opportunities for efficiency gains with tire partners.
Features such as energy-efficient, wide-based, low-rolling resistance single tires and highly engineered aerodynamic surfaces on the trailer also maximized efficiency.
“We took a clean-sheet approach and looked beyond just the vehicle and engine,” noted Rotz. “We examined and analyzed and tested every single angle on the truck and trailer in our quest to achieve the best results.”
Future Innovations
During the development of the SuperTruck, DTNA engineers investigated how high-risk, high-reward technologies used in other industries could be applied to Class 8 vehicles. Electrified auxiliaries, controlled power steering and air systems, active aerodynamics, a long-haul hybrid system, waste heat recovery and trailer solar panels were some of the items assessed.
“Part of our process included taking a deep dive into different systems to analyze not only what might be possible, but obstacles as well,” explained Rotz.
The SuperTruck team discovered that some of these components, due to regulatory or economic barriers, may not be commercially viable in the near future.
Added Diane Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy for Daimler Trucks North America: “The SuperTruck program is just one of many DTNA initiatives that underscore our deep commitment to developing and implementing best-in-class fuel efficiency and aerodynamic innovations that will benefit our customers and our industry for the long-term.”
About the SuperTruck Program

 

I would really like to see what kind of fuel mileage figures the Freightliner Super Truck and trailer could achieve on my regular route .


Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the SuperTruck program was a five-year research and development initiative to improve freight efficiency by at least 50 percent, brake thermal efficiency by 50 percent, and reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of Class 8 trucks. DTNA and three other major truck OEMs were awarded multi-million dollar grants by the DOE and each matched the DOE funding dollar for dollar.
SuperTruck is supported by the U.S. DOE under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. DTNA began work on the SuperTruck program in 2010 together with Detroit and other partners, including national labs, universities and suppliers.
 

Comments (7)

Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/T™, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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Thanks Henry, I forwarded some of those ideas to Frieghtliner and Detroit Diesel through other channels hoping they'd garner some attention. Another idea I forwarded was thinking along the eHVAC idea but driving the air compressor via 12v electric motor to further reduce idling while the air system is recharging after coupling to a new trailer or replacing air lost overnight. Imaging turning your key to the on position and the air system building pressure without starting the engine how much parked idling could be eliminated.

April 10, 2015 15:03:54 PM

Darren ,
Those are sims really great ideas in fact some of them are being explored . It's nice to know that there are forward thinking people such as yourself out there !

April 10, 2015 14:32:51 PM

I think we can all offer challenges to put the Supertruck through. Personally, I'd love to spend a bit of time speaking to the engineers who put this together and run some ideas at them. Here's one such idea: If anyone here has had experience with using Rain-X treatments on their personal vehicles windshield, you already know the advantages of hydrophobic coatings. What if, the overall hood, windshield, wiper profile of our typical trucks were changed to maximize the laminar airflow across the windshield and an advanced OEM hydrophobic coating was implemented, we would barely have to turn on the wipers in the worst kind of heavy rainstorms, thus maximizing our visibility and safety. I've experimented with treating the Evolution windshield, but the airflow seems to separate at the hood, windshield join and the effect doesn't clear the windshield as well as it could if the airflow was tweaked like they could do in wind tunnel testing. Another suggestion was pneumatically deployed side extenders to close the trailer gap automatically once a speed of over 10 mph was attained then retracted below 10 mph for turning, ect...preventing yard damage. There is already a parameter setting that turns off the back up/utility lights above a set speed, so using the same parameter idea, it would control the extenders.

April 10, 2015 11:38:18 AM

As your FMCSA Chief, I plan on keeping my foot in the business. I can see letting Henry use my super truck while, I am stuck doing chief like duties. We can share.

April 03, 2015 4:25:29 AM

Jeff,
I thought we were promoting you to lead the FMCSA.

April 02, 2015 8:53:43 AM

Yes, but let's put it to a real test, WISCONSIN.

April 02, 2015 5:40:31 AM

To Daimler Trucks North America / Freightliner Corporation:

Regarding the spectacular concept Super Truck you designed and built with the help of the grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, I believe an excellent way to continue the momentum started is to put the concept truck on the road in an extended real world application. Ideally you would outfit the truck with sensors to capture data of interest and possibly capture surprise data you were not intending to capture, and then turn the truck loose with no driving restrictions for several months to possibly a year or two. The operator would need to track driving metrics very consistently and accurately every day. Sensor data would be uploaded at predetermined time intervals which would be correlated to the driver-tracked metrics.

What better way to test the technologies you developed that could be implemented in the next 10 years and beyond? I see it as a perfect opportunity to validate your baseline measurements along with the 115% freight efficiency improvement you obtained on public highways in Oregon and Texas. Calculations on paper and Cad programs and the extensive testing and measurements in your unique wind tunnel are great, but only go so far and do not completely translate into actual use day in and day out. A wind tunnel is an amazing tool, but does not provide cross winds, tail winds and winds that change direction at a moment’s notice which affects truck handling and fuel mileage. How does mountainous terrain, winter weather and the induced vibration from extended tire chain usage affect the new technology?

Without understating your significant financial contribution, since this was funded in part from a grant, your financial liability is limited to your funded portion. Allowing the truck to be driven in a real world application may provide far better future profit gains than could be realized by the data obtained through testing. Why not take the opportunity to speed the return on your investment from many years in the future, to just a few years in the future?

That being said, I can’t think of anyone more suited and qualified for this task than Henry Albert, owner operator of Albert Transport, Inc. I have no affiliation to Henry except for being a member of Freightliner Team Run Smart. On that platform I have followed every single article Henry has written since the inception of the Slice of Trucker Life program. As you are familiar with Henry you know he is a Freightliner Team Run Smart Pro and his operation covers the majority of the southern United States on a weekly basis. His is very qualified to track the driving metrics consistently and accurately, in addition his analytical capabilities are very good and his thought process is very logical and methodical. Quite a few of his 234 Slice of Trucker Life / Team Run Smart articles have been about truck operation, fuel mileage and many other topics relative to driving efficiency. Henry is more than capable of digesting the data and providing it to your engineering teams in their preferred format. In addition he has done extensive research on his own with regards to his truck and trailer aerodynamics and how that affects his fuel economy and his company’s bottom line which translates directly into his overall cost of ownership. Henry is highly motivated and is an extremely good ambassador to represent and test your latest and greatest innovations before they become operational in a line haul truck.

Why not utilize a real world owner operator that has a proven track record of what I would argue to be the highest fuel MPG in the industry in the United States? I can see no better opportunity for a return on your investment for Freightliner and DTNA. It is an idea to take very seriously and not wait for months to implement. It would be such a loss to lose traction on the great momentum you have achieved through all of your employees’ dedication and hard work.

April 01, 2015 11:14:17 AM