Volvo Trucks North America has unveiled its new SuperTruck demonstrator, which the company announced has achieved a freight efficiency improvement of 88%, exceeding the 50% improvement goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program.
According to Volvo, the SuperTruck tractor-trailer combination boosted fuel efficiency by 70%—exceeding 12 MPG, with some test runs showing more than 13 MPG—in road tests, and powertrain brake thermal efficiency reached 50%.
“With the support of DOE’s SuperTruck program, Volvo Trucks has presented an exciting vision of trucking’s future,” said Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “Even more impressive is the fact that these tremendous gains were made against a base model Volvo that already in 2009 averaged 7 MPG.”
The SuperTruck program was a five-year DOE research and development initiative to improve freight efficiency—meaning more payload carried while burning less fuel—by 50% compared to 2009 base model trucks. The DOE recently selected the Volvo Group to participate in DOE’s SuperTruck II program, which will target a 100% improvement on a ton-mile-per-gallon basis, and a powertrain capable of 55% brake thermal efficiency.
Volvo’s aerodynamic SuperTruck has a shorter front end than conventional trucks on the road today, and the hood has a sharper downward slope. Lightweight fairings run the length of the tractor and trailer, and cameras have replaced rearview mirrors. Its redesigned chassis is made almost entirely of aluminum, which halved the chassis weight and contributed to an overall tractor-trailer weight reduction of 3,200 pounds.
An enhanced version of Volvo’s I-See, a new feature that memorizes thousands of routes traveled and uses that knowledge to optimize cruise speed and keep the I-shift automated manual transmission in the most fuel-efficient gear possible, was an integral part of the fuel efficiency gains seen during SuperTruck on-road testing, Volvo said. Another key part of the overall efficiency gain, according to Volvo, is the downsized 11-liter Volvo engine, featuring advanced fuel injection, cooling, oil and turbo-charging systems, as well as new wave pistons and other improvements.
“Our work through this program is paying dividends for today’s customers through the SuperTruck innovations we’ve already integrated into our products,” said Nyberg.