Top U.S. Automakers Collaborate to Improve Heavy-Duty Freight Efficiency

Detroit, the hub of America’s automotive industry hosted a gathering of the nation’s leading heavy-duty truck and bus manufacturers earlier this month.

The 21st Century Truck Partnership — which brings together 15 heavy-duty engine, truck, and bus manufacturers, four federal agencies and 12 national laboratories – convened in November at the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center(TARDEC) near Detroit.  The partnership’s goal is to enable the nation’s trucks and buses to safely and cost-effectively move bigger freight and more passengers throughout the country while emitting little or no pollution, dramatically reducing our dependency on foreign oil.  During the meeting, the partners successfully identified energy-saving commercial vehicle technologies that could be effectively integrated into the military’s existing and future fleets.

Another prominent topic was the Energy Department’s SuperTruck Initiative, which focuses on the goal to improve the freight hauling efficiency of heavy-duty Class 8 long-haul vehicles by 50% by 2015. Class 8 vehicles are typically tractor trailers with a total combined weight (including freight) of more than 33,000 pounds. Since its establishment in 2010, SuperTruck partners Cummins, Inc. and Peterbilt Motors Company have demonstrated a 20% increase in engine efficiency and a 54% increase in fuel economy, reaching nearly 10 mpg under real world driving conditions on a Class 8 tractor-trailer, an improvement over the 6.5 mpg baseline.  Additionally, their truck’s freight efficiency improved 61% when compared to a 2009 baseline truck driving the same route.  In general, SuperTruck technologies are projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and avert 3 billion metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

While no single organization or strategy can entirely eliminate the nation’s dependency on carbon-based fuels, all-of-the-above and cross-cutting collaborative efforts like the 21st Century Truck Partnership can help pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.

Visit EERE’s Vehicle Technologies Office website to learn more about the technical goals and accomplishments of the 21st Century Truck Partnership and other VTO research partnerships.