Posted on 07/18/22

What The Tech Here Are The Facts On Trucks

What The Tech Here Are The Facts On Trucks

We explored last week why truckers are a little skeptical about the integration of big rig technology. Truckers don't have anything against technology. However, all the hype and rush to implement new features can cause confusion and complications, especially for Class 8 trucks.

What are these technologies and why is Congress and commercial truck manufacturers so keen to develop them? What benefits can we expect from the implementation of futuristic features when they are finally tested and integrated more accurately?

Everybody who is on the road wants options that offer greater safety, affordability, and convenience. The most important technological advances are behind the wheel and under the hood on eighteen-wheelers are inefficiency, aerodynamics and fuel economy.

These technologies hold great promise for the trucking sector. We invite you to join us as we explore who is testing them and where they are headed.

Learn more about our door-to-door transport services.

Today's Top Showstoppers

These top technologies were displayed by truck manufacturers in the form of concept models over the past two years. Although they are not yet ready for market, many of the components are.

Commercial Carrier Journal states that manufacturers often use these concepts to test new technology they plan to incorporate into their current models. Peterbilt Freightliner and Navistar all have concepts currently on display that showcase futuristic but practical features with the goal of improving efficiency, aerodynamics and fuel economy.

Achieving Efficiency is a Challenge

We can lower the energy required to run a truck. This will reduce wear and tear and fuel consumption. It can also help us reduce greenhouse gas (GHG), emissions.

Four major manufacturers responded to the U.S. Department of Energy’s SuperTruck initiative in 2009. This challenge (and funding) required Class 8 truck manufacturers to create a tractor-trailer that is 50 percent more fuel efficient and less heat efficient by 2015.

SuperTrucks are currently being produced by Freightliner Trucks, the largest division of Daimler Trucks North America.

Peterbilt's first SuperTruck was developed in 2014. It boasts an 86 percent increase in freight efficiency. Freightliner's Supertruck has a 115 percent improvement in freight efficiency. High-tech lightweight composite materials and lightweight aluminum add to its efficiency by reducing trailer weight.

The Shape of Things

Another benefit is that trucks could be designed to look better. A truck that experiences less resistance from road or wind will be able to operate better, resulting in less energy consumption overall.

Peterbilt's Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, (WAVE), is unlike any other truck you have ever seen. WAVE was designed with aerodynamics and features a slender cab that is stacked above the engine. This reduces the wheelbase, and weight, and improves maneuverability. The cab has only one driver's chair. It is located in the middle of the cab. Although it may seem odd, the new design reduces drag by 20% compared to traditional models.

WAVE's hybrid micro-turbine electric powertrain engine is powered by a WAVE range extender. This means that trucks require less space to store energy, which adds to their sleek design.

Freightliner's Supertruck design is optimized for aerodynamic drag reduction. This includes the front radiator, 32-degree angle windshield, fully-flush roof, cab, and sleeper, as well as the fully-flush cab and roof.

Navistar Project Horizon is a concept truck that was created to make an "aerodynamic claim."

Project Horizon also features an axle skirt system and chassis that completely covers drag wheels. This feature can increase aerodynamics as Navistar has demonstrated. However, this project is an excellent example of how imagination, innovation, and practicality don't always align. The way the feature will be implemented in a road-ready truck is still being determined.

Economy and Emissions

The Class 8 trucks weigh in at between 33,000 and 80,000 lbs (loaded to unloaded) so every mile saved in fuel can mean thousands of dollars each year.

Freightliner's Supertruck was tested at 12.2 mpg. The engine has a waste heat recovery system, as well as a high-tech program that manages kinetic energy to provide optimal feedback to its powertrain. The trailer roof's solar panels provide power for the truck's fully-electric HVAC system.

The Peterbilt Supertruck converts exhaust heat to power and delivers it to the crankshaft. It also has electronic control software that uses route data to optimize fuel consumption. It achieves 10.7 mpg and has a 75% increase in fuel economy and a 33% reduction in GHG emissions.

Peterbilt's WAVE Trailer is almost entirely made of carbon fiber. This reduces the trailer's weight by nearly 4,000 pounds. It is currently powered by diesel but can be switched to a fuel-neutral turbine motor that can run on gasoline, natural gas, and DME as well as other biofuels.

The Road to Tomorrow

These concept cabs will not be on the roads anytime soon but some aspects of their innovation have already begun.

The Model 579 EPIQ of Peterbilt boasts a lot of aerodynamics, including a 14 percent increase in fuel efficiency. Freightliner's Cascadia Evolution incorporates many features that were developed from their SuperTruck technology, including a 7 percent increase in fuel efficiency and aerodynamic reductions in wind resistance. ProStar is currently the model that has benefited most from Navistar’s aerodynamic and fuel-efficient Class-8 truck research. This big rig won the fifth China International Truck Energy Conservation Competition.

These are just a few examples that illustrate how technology is affecting the future freight industry. While the driver's seat is still the best way to see the true-road consequences of these integrations in action, these features will eventually be fully tested and integrated, making it easier for all parties to make a living on this road.

Get your free expedited delivery quote