“It’s a one-off proof of concept, to see what works – and what doesn’t.”
The SuperTruck 2 concept is all about re-defining the limits of possibility. Eric Bond, Project Manager and Principal Engineer, talks about the team effort to transform the future of trucking.
Q: What’s the importance of the SuperTruck 2 program?
A: “The SuperTruck program provides a unique chance for a lot of engineers, our partners, and our suppliers to really try new things and develop new technologies that they wouldn't be able to otherwise. It’s a one-off proof of concept, to see what works – and what doesn’t. We can decide later what elements and features to put into production.”
Q: What challenges did you experience in this project?
A: “This award from the Department of Energy allows us to continue what we did from SuperTruck 1. We already had a lot of learning from that project that helped us with SuperTruck 2, but we had to apply new and more stringent targets and challenges to achieve 100% improvement in freight efficiency relative to our 2009 baseline. It was a very big goal.”
“We didn’t have to set our own target of 120% improvement, but we did. In the end we were actually able to achieve a 134% improvement in freight efficiency in ton-miles-per-gallon. We performed a lot of upfront simulations for the complete vehicle as well as individual systems. When we did our own road testing, we validated those results in a real-world environment, not just on flat roads with constant speed, but under conditions a customer would actually see in the field.”
Q: What was the mindset of the team that accomplished this?
A: “The objectives were very clear. The team had a vision, and it was to develop a super-efficient vehicle that would support the long haul driver of the future. So, they took a holistic approach. From the team perspective, they set requirements and targets at the system and component level. The people we had involved in this project, they're extremely passionate, they're extremely experienced. And at the end of it all, they were able to deliver efficiency improvements in terms of aerodynamics, powertrain technologies, and weight optimization. An incredible job all around.”
Q: After this effort, what’s next?
A: “We can take a lot of what we learned in terms of efficiency and emerging technologies and apply them here. It’s really just a matter of making sure we have the right solutions for our customers going forward. And of course, there’s a lot that we’ve done on this project that we can apply to the upcoming SuperTruck 3 program.”
Advanced aerodynamics includes improved cab and fairings design, adjustable ride height, and a camera monitoring system to replace mirrors.
Weight and payload improvements include optimized cab structure, lightweight trailer, 4x2 axle configuration (adaptable to 6X2), and lightweight, low-friction wheels and tires.
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