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Cummins, Pete SuperTruck hits 10.7 mpg

Jason Cannon February 18, 2014

9c442321af3be0ae_800x800arCummins Inc. and Peterbilt Motors Co. announced Tuesday that the latest version of their SuperTruck demonstration tractor-trailer achieved 10.7 mpg last month under real-world driving conditions.

SuperTruck averaged a 75 percent increase in fuel economy, a 43 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and an 86 percent gain in freight efficiency in 24-hour, head-to-head testing against a 2009 baseline truck – all significant improvements, the companies said in a combined release.

The Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck was on display Tuesday for President Barack Obama’s announcement of firm deadlines for the next generation of national fuel-efficiency and GHG emissions standards for heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

The goal of the SuperTruck program, initiated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is to improve long-haul Class 8 vehicle freight efficiency. The program focuses on advanced and highly efficient engine systems and vehicle technologies that meet prevailing emissions and Class 8 tractor-trailer vehicle safety and regulatory requirements. In addition to the benefits of reduced fuel consumption and petroleum usage, the improvements in engine system efficiency will deliver a significant reduction in GHG emissions.

Cummins has partnered with Peterbilt Motors Co. for the SuperTruck project. The project objectives have included development and demonstration of a highly efficient and clean diesel engine, an advanced waste heat recovery system, an aerodynamic tractor and trailer combination and a lithium ion battery-auxiliary power unit, to reduce engine idling.

SuperTruck is a Peterbilt Model 579 powered by a Cummins ISX15. The SuperTruck also includes chassis refinements, improvements in the aerodynamics and other significant advances in the engine. Lightweighting throughout the tractor-trailer also enables increased freight efficiency, the companies said.

Eaton also designed, developed and prototyped an advanced transmission that facilitates reduced engine-operating speeds. Cummins and Eaton jointly designed shift schedules and other features to yield further improved fuel efficiency.

“The critical need to increase the fuel efficiency will require the role of the transmission to grow significantly within the sphere of powertrain optimization, and as a leader in power management solutions, Eaton is at the forefront of innovation in this important area,” Thomas Stover, Chief Technology Officer - Eaton Vehicle Group, says.

The Class 8 Peterbilt Model 579, powered by a Cummins ISX15 engine, achieved 10.7 mpg during testing last month between Denton, Texas, and Vernon, Texas. The 312-mile route was the same one used two years ago, when the first version of the Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck averaged just under 10 mpg.

This demonstration of the Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck has exceeded DOE goals for freight efficiency – a key trucking metric based on payload weight and fuel efficiency expressed in ton-miles per gallon. The SuperTruck achieved an 86 percent improvement in freight efficiency and a 75 percent fuel economy improvement over a 24-hour test cycle in December 2013. The program goal was a 68 percent freight-efficiency increase over a 2009 vintage baseline vehicle of the same weight traveling along the same route.

“I think it’s been a terrific opportunity for us to look into the future and demonstrate what’s possible,” Landon Sproull, Peterbilt Chief Engineer, says of the project.

The increase in fuel economy for the Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck would save about $27,000 annually per truck based on today’s diesel fuel prices for a long-haul truck traveling 120,000 miles per year, Cummins estimated. It would also translate into a more than 43 percent reduction in annual GHG emissions per truck.

The potential savings in fuel and GHGs are enormous, given that there are about 2 million registered tractor-trailers on U.S. roads today, according to the American Trucking Association.

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