Fuel Smarts

Daimler Achieves 115% Efficiency Improvement with SuperTruck

March 26, 2015

By Stephane Babcock

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe

Freightliner's SuperTruck. Photo: Stephane Babcock
Freightliner's SuperTruck. Photo: Stephane Babcock
Daimler Trucks North America unveiled its futuristic SuperTruck at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show, saying the project exceeded the company’s expectations. The DTNA SuperTruck has achieved 115% freight efficiency improvement, surpassing the Department of Energy program’s goal of 50% improvement, according to Diane Hames, general manager of marketing and strategy.

“This has been a very fruitful use of taxpayer dollars,” said Hames, referring to the $40 million grant DTNA received from the DOE to participate in the SuperTruck program, “and I’m happy to be here today with the results of our efforts and a product that has far exceeded our expectations – hats off to our engineers.”

To validate the efficiency targets set by the DOE, DTNA engineers conducted a series of tests, including running the vehicle on highway routes in Oregon and Texas, one city route in Portland, Ore., and anti-idle testing in both a cold chamber and hot chamber. These tests resulted in a combined 115% freight efficiency improvement over a 2009 baseline truck.

Further testing conducted at the DTNA Detroit engineering facility demonstrated engine efficiency by achieving 50.2% engine brake thermal efficiency. The final test consisted of a five-day, 312-mile round trip route on Texas Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Dallas, at a weight of 65,000 lbs GVWR at a speed of 65 mph, where it achieved an average result of 12.2 mpg.

The articulating grill opens at lower speeds to cool the engine and closes at higher speeds when aerodynamics is more important. Photo: Stephane Babcock
The articulating grill opens at lower speeds to cool the engine and closes at higher speeds when aerodynamics is more important. Photo: Stephane Babcock
Principal SuperTruck Investigator Derek Rotz pointed out some of the conflicting goals that had to be resolved to produce a highly efficient Class 8 truck.

“Cooling the engine and improving aerodynamic performance are typically at odds with each other in terms of how they handle the air flow,” explained Rotz. “Aerodynamics wants to keep the air external to the vehicle, and cooling requires air to go within the engine compartment.”

The solution was an articulating grill that opens at lower speeds to cool the engine and closes at higher speeds when aerodynamics is more important. During the development of the SuperTruck, engineers also investigated technologies such as electrified auxiliaries, controlled power steering and air systems, active aerodynamics, a long-haul hybrid system, waste heat recovery and trailer solar panels.

The DTNA SuperTruck team discovered that some of these components, due to regulatory or economic barriers, may not be commercially viable in the near future.           

Other components were taken from the OE’s existing tool belt, including 6x2 optimization, aerodynamic components found on the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, and the integrated Detroit Powertrain. Downspeeding with a custom engine rating, and using the predictive capabilities of Intelligent Powertrain Management (IPM) components such as pre-loaded 3D digital maps to control shifting and eCoast events, also increased efficiency and economy.


  1. 1. Tom Aaron [ March 26, 2015 @ 04:15AM ]

    Ms. Babcock, Reading this article, the first thing that stuck out was this "Futuristic " truck was compare to a 2009 baseline truck? How is that relevant?

  2. 2. Heatmizer [ March 26, 2015 @ 05:22AM ]

    Nice truck. Too bad it's only a static model. The Cummins-PACCAR truck was alot more believable.

  3. 3. Philip Gurke [ March 26, 2015 @ 06:17AM ]

    To see a truck like this is amazing. I can't wait to see this technology filter down to a Thomas school bus. Maybe we can finally realize 20 mpg in a school bus in the near future.

  4. 4. mike huber [ March 26, 2015 @ 06:38AM ]

    Drop the paint scheme looks a lot like cascadia. So where did all the get spent. Would like see a break down.thanks

  5. 5. Paul [ March 26, 2015 @ 07:01AM ]

    40 million dollars....40 million of our tax dollars....for what...to appease some government, fat cat that could care less a bout fuel mileage and more about how much of that 40 million he could get in his pocket. Trucks nowadays have gone the way of automobiles....round, foreign crap that all look alike. Gone are the days of the hood and trucks with any personality at all. Scrap the EPA and their fuel standards and put the trucker back in charge of what he drives....and while we're at it, screw CARB!

  6. 6. Bill [ March 26, 2015 @ 09:01AM ]

    Some of the concepts are interesting, however, the biggest fuel savings for DTNA (and the cheapest) was likely the fact it was at 65,000 lb and not 80,000 lb. Add another 15,000 lbs and lets see what happens to the FE, or figure in a second truck to haul the 15,000 the first one couldn't/didn't.

  7. 7. Anton Chigurh [ March 26, 2015 @ 10:10AM ]

    So the fruitful use of taxpayer dollars was developing a bunch of technologies that are not viable due to regulatory or economic barriers? Outstanding!

  8. 8. Conrad Damann [ March 27, 2015 @ 09:13PM ]

    I'M with Paul get rid of the EPA and all them other useless tax termites that think they know it all What about the heavy haulers 9 axel or 11 axels 20 MPG ya right what a joke

  9. 9. Heatmizer [ March 28, 2015 @ 07:42AM ]

    OK, so it's actually run on the road - great. There's so much carbon fiber on this thing that it's sure to be cost effective. I hear its Waste Heat Recovery system uses ethanol as its 'water'. Isn't that stuff kind of flammable? It's got to boil into a vapor under pressure to work - so what if it springs a leak? That vapor, like compressed air, will leak until its done. No smoking around this thing!

  10. 10. greg [ March 28, 2015 @ 09:21PM ]

    Give it month or two and it'll blow in your face.....like the rest of the automobile bull shit....and let Americans pay for crap.....

  11. 11. Johnsd2 [ March 31, 2015 @ 06:14AM ]

    I agree with Bill, put the extra 15,000 # on it and then see the true mileage. We move a lot of freight out of our manufacturing place and most of the loads are at 75,000# because the trucks run out of room. So I would suggest they try it again at 75,000 # or use a tanker and load it to 80,000# and then look at the mileage.

  12. 12. Beverly Baldwin [ April 03, 2015 @ 07:15PM ]

    The sad part of a truck like this is the human factor, With the general motoring public that have safety standards, there is none in a commercial truck 35 mile per hour impact means the driver is toast

  13. 13. robert lee ellifrits [ July 14, 2015 @ 03:39PM ]

    nice truck, but I want to know how does the truck with a 53ft with 45,000lbs load? and hit the mts and other place were truck had problems on the road.


Comment On This Story

Comment: (Maximum 2000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


We offer e-newsletters that deliver targeted news and information for the entire fleet industry.


ELDs and Telematics

sponsored by
sponsor logo

Scott Sutarik from Geotab will answer your questions and challenges

View All

Sleeper Cab Power

Steve Carlson from Xantrex will answer your questions and challenges

View All