Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) recently announced that it has realized the objectives of its SuperTruck program one year ahead of schedule.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), the SuperTruck program is an ambitious five-year research and development initiative focused on improving freight efficiency, reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of Class 8 trucks. Including DTNA, four major truck OEMs were awarded multi-million dollar grants by the DOE.

DTNA worked with project partners to exceed program goals by designing a heavy-duty Class 8 truck that demonstrated a more than 50 percent improvement in overall freight efficiency over a 2007 baseline tractor-trailer combination. DTNA also showed engine efficiency by achieving more than 50 percent engine brake thermal efficiency.

“We’re pleased that we achieved our SuperTruck goals ahead of schedule, however our work isn’t done,” said Derek Rotz, principal investigator for SuperTruck, Daimler Trucks North America. “In our final year of the SuperTruck program, we will continue to make enhancements that will not only improve efficiency, but will steer the course for our industry.”

According to Rotz, DTNA conducted a series of fuel efficiency, HVAC and thermal tests on a prototype vehicle, including two different on-highway routes in Oregon and Texas, which measured 52 percent and 61 percent fuel economy improvement respectively. The combined tractor-trailer weighed in at 1500 lbs less than the baseline. Plans to complete and test a final demonstration vehicle with additional fuel and weight savings measures are scheduled for late 2014.

Many of the concepts used on the SuperTruck, such as an integrated powertrain, 6x2 optimization, advanced technologies and enhanced aerodynamics, have already been introduced by DTNA in products such as the Freightliner Cascadia® Evolution and the new integrated Detroit™ Powertrain. New features, such as a downsized engine coupled with a hybrid electric powertrain and a waste heat recovery system further contributed to the success of the SuperTruck project.

“The SuperTruck program has served as a great opportunity to deepen our research and development efforts, with the ultimate benefit being to our industry and our customers,” said Dr. Maik Ziegler, director of advanced engineering for Daimler Trucks North America. “This collaborative effort underscores our commitment to developing forward-thinking solutions that help our customers realize the lowest Real Cost of Ownership.”

SuperTruck is supported by the U.S. Dept. of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. DTNA began work on the SuperTruck program in 2010 together with Detroit and other partners including national labs, universities and suppliers.

For more information about Daimler Trucks North America, go to www.daimler-trucksnorthamerica.com.