A few years ago the Department of Energy introduced its SuperTruck program to spur efficiency improvements in large tractor-trailer trucks.
Improving the efficiency of long-haul tractor-trailers is one of the many ways that the United States can reduce the amount of petroleum we use and the carbon pollution we produce. Commercial trucks, which include Class 8 vehicles, haul as much as 80% of the goods transported in the country. Although they only make up 4% of vehicles on the road, they use about 20% of the fuel consumed.
Increasing these vehicles’ efficiency can also benefit our overall economy. In general, the long-haul truck fleet is quick to adopt technologies that improve fuel efficiency and lower costs for owner-operators. Based on the current price of diesel, these technologies should save truck operators more than $20,000 per year on fuel costs.
Lowering these trucks’ fuel costs reduces the amount companies need to spend on transportation and can allow retailers to charge less for their goods. If all Class 8 trucks in the U.S. were SuperTrucks, the country would consume nearly 300 million fewer barrels of oil and spend nearly $30 billion less on fuel each year.
Daimler Trucks of North America was able to show a 115 percent improvement over a baseline using a number of drivetrain, tire, and aerodynamic tricks. There is still some way to go - but hopefully the result will be something cost effective enough to encourage buyers to shift to more efficient trucks to save money.