Except for highway wrecks, it isn’t often that the general news media get interested in big rigs. But one online outlet, www.fool.com, now has a story about the SuperTruck project, specifically the Peterbilt-Cummins vehicle recently displayed in Washington, D.C., for President Obama’s announcement about fuel economy standards for commercial trucks.
The writer, Maxx Chatsko, says the 10% to 20% or so gain anticipated by pickup-truck builders for their consumer-oriented 2015 models “don’t come close to matching the 20% increase in engine efficiency and 70% increase in freight efficiency” reported by Cummins and Peterbilt.
“Oh, yeah - the new truck also sports an over 84% increase in fuel economy compared with other trucks in its class,” 10.7 miles per gallon vs. a 5.8-mpg figure more typical of heavy trucks, he says. “Are you ready for it?”
Next there’s a broadside photo that emphasizes the rig’s length. We who know a little about economy improvers recognize the rig’s streamlining. The Pete 579 tractor is basically very aerodynamic, and its Cummins ISX15 diesel converts a more-than-usual amount of exhaust heat into energy at the crankshaft.
The close-coupled 53-foot van trailer has more than the usual number of fairings. Its full-length side skirts cover the tandem’s wheels and partially wrap around the rear. For practicality reasons, not many users would go this far. The folding-panel TrailerTail is readily available, though, and a growing number of fleets use it every day.
At least one fleet we know of gets in the 9-mpg range with its tractor-trailers, so that 10.7 isn’t awfully far from reality. Such performance will help truck builders reach new economy standards as they roll out. Daimler, Navistar and Volvo also have SuperTruck projects.
Those 10.7 and 5.8 figures are what Cummins and Peterbilt reported from recent comparison testing in Texas (see http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fuel-smarts/news/story/2014/02/demonstration-supertruck-hits-10-7-mpg-mark.aspx).
The full “fool” article is here.