Most semitrailer trucks average from 5.5 to 6.5 mpg, maybe less than that if you’re running a much older model. When Cummins and Peterbilt Motors Company set out to develop a truck that could meet or exceed 10 mpg when fully loaded, it was considered highly unlikely – if not impossible. However, with advances in engines, aerodynamics, and more, the SuperTruck has proven that 10 mpg is attainable.
The jointly built truck is part of a program initiated by the Department of Energy to improve long-haul Class 8 vehicle freight efficiency. The program focuses on advanced and highly efficient engine systems and vehicle technologies that meet prevailing emissions and regulatory requirements.
The concept truck uses the Peterbilt model 579 with aerodynamic innovations throughout. The engine, based on Cummins’ ISX15, converts exhaust heat into power delivered to the crankshaft. Electronic control software uses route information to optimize fuel use.
Eaton Corporation, also part of the 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 further improve fuel efficiency.
The increase in fuel economy for the 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. It would also translate into more than a 43% reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions per truck.