Kenworth unveils SuperTruck 2

Kenworth unveils SuperTruck 2

Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 utilizes a PACCAR MX-11 engine, rated at 440 HP, driven through a PACCAR TX-12 automated transmission.

Kenworth showcased its SuperTruck 2 demonstrator vehicle for the first time at the ACT Expo in Las Vegas. The truck was developed over a six-year period as part of a collaboration with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) SuperTruck program, designed to challenge truck makers to improve freight efficiency using a diesel engine as the main power source. The project was the result of a joint investment by the DOE and PACCAR.

“SuperTruck 2 provided us with the opportunity to investigate new technologies in an early stage. We learned what worked and what didn’t. As a result, we are able to commercialize new technologies much quicker than we would have otherwise,” said Jim Walenczak, general manager of Kenworth and PACCAR vice president.

“We started with an ideal aerodynamic shape when we started the design of SuperTruck 2,” said Joe Adams, Kenworth’s chief engineer. “At the start of the project, we asked ourselves, ‘What does the next generation vehicle for long haul transportation look like?’ What we produced pushes the limits in reducing aerodynamic drag while it also incorporates a new powertrain.”

Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 utilizes a PACCAR MX-11 engine, rated at 440 HP, which is driven through a PACCAR TX-12 automated transmission. In addition, the truck features a 48-volt electric generator. This creates what Kenworth calls a “mild” hybrid system and uses lithium-ion batteries. The batteries are re-charged through regenerative braking. This allows Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 to operate electric fans, electric steering, and power for electric coolant and HVAC pumps. The engine fan alone can draw up to 80 HP. The hybrid system also provides an overnight engine-off ‘hoteling’ solution. In addition, the 48V generator powers the exhaust heater in the in-house developed close coupled aftertreatment system which demonstrated CARB 2027 ultra-low NOx compliancy.

The SuperTruck 2 team managed a parallel project for energy efficiency testing by combining a PACCAR MX-11 based engine, the mild hybrid based 48-volt auxiliaries and energy waste recovery to bench test a program record 55.7% engine efficiency, the company said. “We did this while keeping in mind the technologies we developed needed to be commercially viable,” said Maarten Meijer, PACCAR’s senior engineering manager for advanced technology. “Today’s modern diesel engine demonstrates around 47% efficiency. Reaching 55.7% was a major step forward and could only be done by applying new technologies that had not been explored until today. To put that efficiency number into perspective, if this engine were to go into production, it would lead to a 10% fuel efficiency improvement. That’s an astonishing number.”

The aerodynamic design was enabled thanks in part by the location of the powertrain content, which fits between the frame rails. This also allowed the engine to be lowered and placed behind the front axle. A reverse-splayed chassis allowed the engineering team to narrow the front of the truck and fully enclose the wheels within the bodywork. The entire hood and the chassis fairings were mounted directly to the cab, and they move with the entire cab as one unit. A variable suspension system was developed to customize ride height and optimize aerodynamics—Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 can be raised over rough roads to avoid obstacles, then brought back down when running over smoother interstates. Combined, the sleekness means a 48% reduction in drag as compared to Kenworth’s baseline vehicle.

Kenworth says the overall layout was designed to be powertrain agnostic, and that the truck can efficiently package fuel cells, hydrogen tanks, natural gas tanks, or batteries without changing the basic cab.

The payload combination came in at 26,100 lbs., which the company notes is 7,100 lbs. less than a typical tractor-trailer configuration (4,100-lb. savings on the tractor; 3,000 on the trailer).

SuperTruck 2 features PACCAR’s 15-in. digital display, with a configurable gauge layout, driver notifications, and a menu navigation.

Catch up with all the news from ACT Expo here.

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