The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) program to develop ways to increase fuel economy for truck-trailer combinations is continuing with SuperTruck 2 as of a recent investment announcement in August. As with SuperTruck 1, Great Dane is on the team and testing innovations.
In January 2010, the DOE announced nine projects, totaling more than $187 million, to improve vehicle fuel efficiency, including for Class 8 heavy-duty trucks and truck-trailer combinations. In August this year, the DOE announced a $137 million investment to continue to develop the next generation technologies in improving fuel efficiency known as SuperTruck 2.
The SuperTruck 1 (SP1) and SuperTruck 2 (SP2) programs focus on research and development to increase fuel economy as outlined by the DOE, specifically to increase the freight ton efficiency measured in ton-miles/gallon.
The goals are measured against a 2009 baseline truck-trailer fuel economy. While SP1 is complete and SP2 is just beginning, both programs provide data and identify technology to help OEMs comply with federal Green House Gas (GHG 2) regulations scheduled to go into effect fully in 2027.
For SP1, truck manufacturers focused more on engines and truck fuel efficiency. Great Dane’s participation included producing a lightweight component trailer.
For SP2, Great Dane will partner with Cummins-Peterbilt, Eaton, Bridgestone, Meritor and fleet customer Walmart. This next program includes more suppliers, and requires the truck-trailer units to operate as a system to achieve greater savings through aerodynamics and weight reduction.
The SP2 team will begin work on this project soon with the recent selection of participation from the DOE. The project has a 60-month timeline. Great Dane will work to deliver a 53-foot Walmart fleet dry van trailer that weighs 3,500 pounds less than the trailer used in SP1. The target trailer weight is 11,950 pounds, including all aerodynamic devices.
The trailer will likely include the latest aerodynamic add-on devices, such as “active aero devices” that adjust to ideal position based on vehicle speed and wind. It may also have a front wall geometry developed in concert with Peterbilt to close the gap between truck and trailer.