There has been plenty of big news regarding the future of Class 8 trucks in North America recently will the release of the new Freightliner Cascadia, the impeding reveal of “Project Horizon” by International and now the Volvo Super Truck.
In 2011 of the Department of Energy issued a challenge to truck manufacturers by asking for 50% increase in freight efficiency by the year 2016. I’m sure many rolled their eyes, clucked their tongues and stroked their beards while saying it couldn’t be done but here we are on the edge of a new tomorrow with concept trucks breaking or exceeding the original goals. While participation was voluntary builders took the time (and government grants) to refine their trucks in anticipation of ever increasing EPA mandates regarding emissions and fuel economy.
There’s more than one way to skin a supertruck as seen by the varying paths each manufacturer followed to hyper fuel efficiency. In Volvo’s case a total vehicle approach was embraced that included not only the tractor unit but the trailer. Every portion of the SuperTruck chassis is made of aluminum components except for the mounting bolts. The total weight savings from this style of construction resulted in a 3,200 pound reduction compared to the baseline VNL 760 representing the average rig found on the road today.
With such a dramatic savings in weight Volvo found they could use a smaller bore engine to power the SuperTruck, which in turn saved even more weight increasing yet again the fuel efficiency and energy savings. At the end of testing the SuperTruck returned a 12+ MPG rating, an 88% increase in freight efficiency and was 70% more fuel efficient than the 2009 baseline test truck. You can read more about the exact specifics on the composite materials, turbo compounding and wave pistons by clicking here.