(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Back in December, I wrote about the governmentâs efforts to improve the fuel economy of the thousands of tractor-trailer trucks that crowd our highways accounting for millions of gallons of diesel fuel and tons of carbon emissions. One prong of this effort was a five-year $115 million DOE project that challenged truck makers to see if they could achieve a 50% reduction in fuel consumption.
Now, FreightlinerÂ has announced their success, as they unveiled their Supertruck.
The 65,000 pound semi, which is powered by an 11-liter hybrid diesel engine, and shrouded with a bevy of aerodynamic features, comfortably surpassed the target by 15%, with a demonstrated fuel economy of 12.2 mpg, more than twice the average of trucks on the road today. The test drive was performed between Dallas and San Antonio Texas.
The list of features that combined to achieve this result is truly impressive.
The company took a clean slate approach to the project, evaluating every aspect of the vehicle, utilizing an incredible 8 million hours of computation in the process. Freightliner, which is a subsidiary of the Daimler organization, leveraged expertise from numerous partners around the world.
Aerodynamics played a huge role in the transformation. For starters, a lot of wind drag is produced by the air entering the engine compartment to cool the radiator. Freightliner came up with an innovative grille design that opens when engine cooling is needed and closes when it is not. Surprisingly, over two-thirds of the benefit comes from the trailer. A nose cone, side skirts and a boat tail all contribute to improved aerodynamics. A cab extender also closes off the gap between the trailer and the cab, an area of high turbulence in conventional semis.