Focus on heavy-duty truck diesel fuel efficiency

Focus on heavy-duty truck diesel fuel efficiency

As a fleet manager, you feel the pain at the pump when today’s diesel prices spike to set new record highs. It quickly snaps your focus back to the equipment and technology you need to consider for the truck you’re spec’ing today. It’s time for a refresher course on hyper fuel efficient truck equipment options.

Start your fuel-efficient engines

The first place to start is at the heart of the truck—the engine. Model year over model year, new technology is rolled out onto existing engine platforms that continue to evolve. Take Mack Trucks’s Mack MP8HE engine that powers the on-highway hauling Mack Anthem, for example. The 13-liter MP8HE+ engine is part of Mack’s efficiency package. The engine sports the latest in energy recovery technology—delivering additional torque to the crankshaft by capturing waste energy from the engine’s exhaust.

The engine’s wave piston design promotes more complete and consistent combustion in the cylinder because it evenly distributes the air-fuel mixture within the cylinder, offering additional benefits. The engine also boosts efficiency through an optimized 18:1 compression ratio and updated turbocharger wastegate.

Shifting gears toward great fuel efficiency

Today’s highly integrated powertrains link an efficiency engine to a highly intelligent transmission. Automated manual transmissions (AMT), like the 12-speed Mack mDRIVE AMT, enable the latest in powertrain technology like Mack Predictive Cruise. The system leverages GPS, monitoring driver speed, engine load and road topography, memorizing those conditions when cruise control is set. The next time the driver travels the same route, Mack Predictive Cruise will communicate to the transmission to ensure the optimal gear for fuel efficiency is chosen.

Mack Predictive Cruise also monitors speed, engine load, weight and the road gradient in order to select the best gear for the road ahead. When approaching a hill, Predictive Cruise allows slightly more speed. The mDRIVE AMT maintains the highest gear possible, remaining in that gear and preventing downshifts if unnecessary to crest the hill.

Enter the latest Predictive Cruise related feature–Econo-Roll, now standard on Mack highway models. The system temporarily disengages the driveline before the downhill descent, allows the truck to roll, reducing fuel consumption. Because the hill is stored in the vehicle’s memory, Predictive Cruise recognizes it and knows when the gradient will even out, allowing the truck to maintain its speed for the next incline.

Cutting fuel costs

One of the most important truck equipment features that cut fuel costs are aerodynamics. The more aero drag you can shave off of the tractor means more money in your pocket. That’s why OEMs are continually evolving its aerodynamics offerings. When the Mack Anthem launched in 2017, the new aerodynamic (yet still muscular) design aerodynamics improve fuel efficiency up to 3%, compared to the Mack Pinnacle.

Today, Mack has beefed up the Anthem’s fuel-savings muscles, while keeping the truck profile lean. The latest offerings include extended chassis fairings that yield up to a 0.5% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the base Anthem model. The Anthem’s factory installed FlowBelow tractor AeroKit system adds up to another 2.23% fuel savings by improving air flow around the rear axles.

Fuel savings add up

Ultimately, your application will dictate your most fuel efficient options, but for on-highway hauling, focusing on engine efficiency, the latest powertrain technology and advanced aerodynamics will put you on the road to savings. Consider the Mack Anthem example w the 13-liter Mack MP8HE+ efficiency package, which includes the revised MP8HE engine, the Mack mDRIVE automated manual transmission, numerous aerodynamic improvements and Mack Predictive Cruise, boosts fuel efficiency by up to 13% when compared with the baseline Anthem model (70-in. sleeper; Mack MP8-445C; Mack mDRIVE; 3.08 rear axle; roof fairing, side fairings w/extenders, aero bumper without spoiler).

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