Go inside the Kenworth SuperTruck 2

Go inside the Kenworth SuperTruck 2

We detail the specs and technology of the Bullet Train-inspired truck and talk through the equipment that could make it to production.

Taking center stage inside the Kenworth booth at this year’s ACT Expo was one of the most unique trucks at the show, but there was more than meets the eye to the Kenworth SuperTruck 2. Its sleek shape that reduces air resistance to improve aerodynamics 48% over a typical Kenworth T680 only hinted at the powertrain technology within.

It features an MX-11 engine, modestly enhanced and integrated into a mild hybrid system operating at 48 volts. This system captures braking energy to charge batteries, which then power various vehicle components like cooling fans and electronic power steering. This setup ensures the truck meets the ultra-low NOx emissions standards set for 2027, highlighting its environmental prowess.

“When we say, ‘mild hybrid,’ it’s not providing propulsion to the rear wheels, but it is supporting all the accessories,” explained Nick Harker, assistant chief engineer at Kenworth. “For example, it powers the heat pump for the cab, which is really cool. It’s very efficient and allows us to hotel overnight without running the engine at all. With a mild hybrid, you can get the benefits of efficiency boost, but you don’t have the challenges with full battery electric.”

Further contributing to its efficiency is the SuperTruck 2’s weight reduction strategy. Employing full carbon fiber for the fairings, door and a fully composite cab, alongside large frame castings with a reverse splay design, the truck is approximately 4,000 lbs. lighter than traditional Kenworth models. This reduction not only improves fuel efficiency but also allows for an increased freight capacity—up to 7,000 additional lbs.

In the cab, the focus was on the driver experience, utilizing the SuperTruck program to test new cab concepts like a centrally positioned driver’s seat that maximizes the panoramic windshield.

“The SuperTruck program is a great test bed to try out all these new technologies,” Harker said. “We work very closely with the Department of Energy on funding and we’re developing these technologies, and it would be a ‘miss’ if we didn’t take some of it to production and use that to shape the future trucks.”

As to what features Harker envisions making it to series production one day … well, you’ll have to watch the video above.

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No script? No plan? No problem. Welcome to Fleet Equipment Unscripted—the video interview series that connects you with the greatest minds in the heavy-duty trucking world. Fleet Equipment Unscripted is sponsored by Hendrickson.

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