Demonstration SuperTruck Hits 10.7 MPG Mark

February 18, 2014

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Cummins and Peterbilt announced Tuesday their latest version of their SuperTruck demonstration tractor-trailer achieved 10.7 mpg last month under real-world driving conditions.

It averaged a 75% increase in fuel economy, a 43% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 86% gain in freight efficiency in 24-hour, head-to-head testing against a 2009 baseline truck, according to a release. This surpasses the program goal of a 68% increase in freight-efficiency, a trucking metric based on payload weight and fuel efficiency expressed in ton-miles per gallon.

The Peterbilt Model 579, powered by a Cummins ISX15 engine, achieved the latest results 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.

The testing in both instances was conducted on a round-trip basis, to negate any wind advantage that might have been gained by traveling one way. Each tractor-trailer had a combined gross weight of 65,000 lbs. running at 64 mph. A longer, 500-mile route between Denton and Memphis, Texas, was also used to demonstrate the vehicle's fuel-efficiency improvement over a 24-hour test cycle.

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, is to improve long-haul Class 8 vehicle freight efficiency. It 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, according to both companies. 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.

The Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck engine converts exhaust heat into power delivered to the crankshaft, and has electronic control software that uses route information to optimize fuel use. The SuperTruck also includes chassis refinements, improvements in the aerodynamics and other significant advances in the engine. Lighter weighing components throughout the tractor-trailer also enable increased freight efficiency.

Eaton, also part of the Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck project team, is developing a next-generation automated transmission that improves fuel efficiency in heavy-duty trucks. Eaton's contribution includes the design, development and prototyping of 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 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, according to the companies. It would also translate into a more than 43% 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 Associations.

Cummins is a prime contractor leading one of four teams under the DOE's SuperTruck project, one of several initiatives that are part of the 21st Century Truck Partnership. The partnership is a public-private initiative to further stimulate innovation in the trucking industry through sponsoring by government agencies, companies, national laboratories and universities.


  1. 1. KENT HARRIS [ February 19, 2014 @ 07:33AM ]

    Why is a light loaded truck used for this competition? Load the truck to 80,000 gross. The numbers would provide real world information for a majority of bulk haulers.

  2. 2. THOMAS CAULEY [ February 19, 2014 @ 08:09AM ]

    Is that a flat road? Lets go from Spokane Wa to Seattle Wa an see how they do over a few hills.That if You want real world info.Then lets load it to 80,000.

  3. 3. Louie Quintin [ February 19, 2014 @ 08:41AM ]

    I agree, 80,000 lbs. and send them to Vermont... :-)

  4. 4. Carlton Biggs [ February 19, 2014 @ 10:59AM ]

    Go to Michigan from N.C. and drive the way most drive and then tell us what it got. Obamma is not in real world any way. and also with 80,000 lbs.

  5. 5. Mr. Truck [ February 20, 2014 @ 06:22AM ]

    What they don't tell you is half the miles were done on a hook after the "new and improved" engine took a dump and five filters, four sensors and the ECM had to be replaced ;>}

  6. 6. Richard Harper [ February 22, 2014 @ 06:30PM ]

    This is all wonderful and full of fluff and goo. No mention of cost for prototype or estimated premium once in production. End result could be very fuel efficient trucks and no one in business to drive them. Let's work towards efficiencies that make business sense.

  7. 7. Jesse [ February 22, 2014 @ 10:03PM ]

    A 75% increase in fuel economy?! I call B.S.! Do the math... And anyhow even I could probably figure out how to lean the thing out so bad with all kinds of adjustments and equipment to get 10 plus mpg for a trip or two, but the thing would probably blow up not too long after that... Quit screwing around with everything Obama, everything you touch turns to crap! His nickname should be "Midas"...

  8. 8. Steve [ February 24, 2014 @ 04:14AM ]

    That's nothing. I started my truck at the top of Cabbage Hill in Oregon. By the time I had gotten to the bottom, I showed 120 MPG with a full load of 80,000 lbs.. Is that a "Real World" test too ?

  9. 9. Larry [ February 24, 2014 @ 06:44AM ]

    Bring it to the Cascades, gross 105,500. Run 500 miles a day through the mountains, see if it breaks 5 miles per gallon. This is a real life experience!!!

  10. 10. Crazy Lyle [ February 24, 2014 @ 04:03PM ]

    I'm obviously not a trucker, just interested in the topic of energy efficiency in general and own Cummins stock.

    75% increased MPG is a gain from 6.1 to 10.7MPG. The 6.1 was in a 2009 model used for comparison. Do any of you average much more than that today in loaded class 8 (I know there are a lot of variables)? And what lower averages are commonly seen ?

    The route noted has a gain of 650' outbound and drop on return. I have driven that route on 287 a lot of times heading from Dallas to UT, it's a combination of 2 lane each side / divided highway and better, with several slow zones through towns.

    What would 500 miles a day through the Cascades usually yield in MPG ?

    I live in UT now and get 40-42 from SLC to Pocatello on I-15 in my Accord, which is listed at 36 highway. Always wondered what mileage would be in a well loaded class 8 from SLC to Pocatello going over Malad pass - or from Idaho Falls up over Monida into MT.

    Thanks -

  11. 11. Scooby [ February 27, 2014 @ 08:14AM ]

    Hey y'all, I got to see the truck and talked to the engineers last week. It's very clear why they tested at 65k: because the majority, like 65%, of interstate trucking cubes out at around 65k. This means their development effort will benefit the overwheming majority of the trucking community. I asked about running at 80k and they told me that the fuel economy will go down but only at a rate of about 0.6%/1000lb of added frieght. That comes to about 1mpg. I'd take 9.7, wouldn't you? They also acknowleged that weather and terrain affects fuel economy...that's why they always test against a baseline truck on the same day. But no drafting...they are far apart in real traffic.
    The last thing not mentioned in any article is that the trailer skirts are air actuated so they will fold up under the trailer when they cross elevated tracks, curbs, or inclined loading docks. That demonstration was impressive. Peterbilt and Cummins really thought about the operator in this design and have put it in the hands of real truckers to verify their work. I think this those guys have really broken new ground on ways for us to make more money in what we do.

  12. 12. Gary [ March 11, 2014 @ 09:04AM ]

    I got right at 10 MPG from Clarkdale, AZ to Kingman, AZ in a 96 T800 with a Cummins M11 @ 330 HP and a Fuller 10 speed, back in '01 or '02. Of course I was running empty, weight was just under 24,000 lbs. Now, real world MPG was around 5.5 to 6 MPG, including unloading time of about 45 min. to an hour @ 1900 RPM.

  13. 13. Bill R [ March 26, 2014 @ 04:50AM ]

    I'm 51 and have figured out a few things. Most truck drivers already know this but it bears repeating. There are 3 main points that determine mpg (in any vehicle). Speed, weight, and aerodynamics. If you can decrease these three, preferably all at the same time, you'll get better mpg; and that means more $money$ in your pocket. Dollars get my attention. Another simple thing to do is to NOT stop. Anytime I can roll through a stop light that just turned green is a victory. Think of it this ever run or bike and have to stop? Getting going is more difficult than just maintaining motion (its a physic's thing). Same for trucks, cars, trains, busses, horses, and people. If it save me $$ and effort, I'm all for it, regardless what the president or college educated idiot says.

  14. 14. Wayne [ April 01, 2014 @ 09:43AM ]

    First, I don't understand why anyone mentions anything about Obama. That just shows your ignorance.

    Second, just as everyone has mentioned, the "real life" part of this isn't very real considering the truck is not loaded to gross and in Texas it's traveling relatively flat terrain.

    Third, Bill R. hit the nail right on the head - slow down, carry less weight, and have an aerodynamic vehicle. Hell, just slowing down will save you money. Do some research on how just a few miles per hour slower can save you thousands of dollars per year.

    The only drivers who are interested in this are owner operators or drivers with their own authority, because they're the ones paying for the fuel they use. Company drivers only care about how many miles they can cram in a week and how fast they can drive to cover those miles. They don't pay for a thing.

  15. 15. Drake [ May 25, 2014 @ 07:07AM ]

    I applaud the push to get the trucks to be more fuel efficient and lower GHG. I will say that I agree with others about test in real world conditions. Why not have a test that goes from coast to coast and back? That way you hit every type of terrain. Also, load the truck to 80K with fuel tanks full.

    Second, someone asked what real world MPG we are getting now. I have averaged about 8.1 this month. The truck I drive is governed at 63. I usually set the cruise between 58 - 60 to increase my MPG because i get bonuses for keeping it high.

    The point is to lower emissions and reduce fuel use. It is actually a win win for everybody involved. My big question is how reliable the truck will be? If you are sitting for repairs over and over then it is not economically viable.


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