Peterbilt displayed its new SuperTruck II demonstrator vehicle for the first time at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference and Exhibition in San Diego Oct. 23-24. Its radically different look drew double-takes, lots of questions, and people getting their pictures taken by it.
The goal of the Department of Energy’s SuperTruck program is to improve long-haul Class 8 vehicle freight efficiency through demonstrating the potential of advanced, highly efficient powertrain systems and vehicle technologies.
Peterbilt’s SuperTruck II demonstrator truck was on display at ATA in between testing, without the custom trailer that is also part of the project. Testing is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
The first thing that jumps out is the truck’s unusual aerodynamic profile. A center drive position allowed designers to improve the ability of the aerodynamics to deflect air up and over the truck and trailer, with an extremely curved windshield. The windshield and the near-cabover-like driving position improve overall visibility.
Under the tall hood is a Cummins X15 high-efficiency engine and Eaton transmission. A 48-volt mild hybrid system powers auxiliaries, with electric power steering,
HVAC and cooling fan. It also puts some additional power back into the main powertrain.
The waste heat recovery system is much improved from the first-generation SuperTruck, but company representatives said it’s probably still not something that can be commercialized in a cost-effective way.
The cab and chassis use carbon fiber, aluminum, and high-strength steel to take out weight — 4,800 pounds across the tractor and trailer combined. The truck features custom low-rolling-resistance tires and lightweight 24.5-inch wheels.
For aerodynamics, in addition to sleek, low aero fairings, a smart suspension system will lower the entire tractor-trailer at highway speeds for the least possible resistance. The cab extenders use the air system to reshape the extenders so they can move back and forth to optimize aerodynamics in turns. It also uses cameras in place of mirrors.
The split-level integral cab and sleeper features a right-hand entry stand-up door, pop-out windows, a large, wrap-around dash, 15” digital dash display for virtual gauges and critical vehicle data, an additional display for HVAC, infotainment and navigation controls, an articulated seat that rotates left and right, and a pull-out desk.