The US Department of Energy (DOE) may not be looking for Optimus Prime, but they want his kind to be more fuel efficient. In 2010, the DOE launched their SuperTruck Initiative which aims to “develop tractor-trailers that are 50% more efficient than baseline models by 2015.”
Currently, Class 8 trucks, the typical tractor-trailer used for hauling cargo through North America, burn around 5.8 gallons a mile (40.5 liters/100 km). Since these trucks are used to haul around 80% of goods cross country, their impact on the US carbon emissions is significant. Case in point, they only make up 4% of the vehicles on US roads yet guzzle 20% of the fuel used.
Improving fuel economy isn’t easy, but other companies have been able to squeeze out fuel savings. Recently, however, Daimler came up with the Freightliner that got 12.2 miles per gallon (19.3 liters/100 km)! This they proved on a 312-mile (502 kilometer) round trip between Dallas and San Antonio, running at an average of 65 mph (104.6 kph), among other tests.
In order to achieve this, the company designed a bit more like a sports car with smart driving technologies like coasting and predictive shifting, aero grills, drive wheel fairing, and drivetrain improvements. Other things that the Daimler engineers are investigating are “electrified auxiliaries, controlled power steering and air systems, active aerodynamics, a long-haul hybrid system, waste heat recovery and trailer solar panels”.
What may come out may not be an Autobot, but it’s sure helluva fuel efficient workhorse.
They do not burn 5.8 gallons per mile, they get 5.8 to 7 miles per gallon (depending on load terrain speed etc). Might want to fix the story as if that was true most trucks would have a 40 mile range on 200 gallons and they in fact can usually go over 1000 miles on 200 gallons.
“the typical tractor-trailer used for hauling cargo through North America, burn around 5.8 gallons a mile”
ONE MORE ISSUE: The formula for determining ‘overall’ transportation/fuel efficiency (diesel or gasoline) involves (1) overhead; and (2) cargo or weight. Therefore, when comparing fuel cost and usage, domestic travel (for passengers) can not be compared to commercial travel (for freight/cargo) particularly in the computation of ‘fuel used’. I say this because, it’s no coincidence that Diesel transport captured the commercial market long, long ago. There has never been a more efficient mode of transporting freight/cargo, and it is my belief that Rudolph Diesel’s invention is the most efficient mechanical device ever invented. Together with the vast peripheral improvements in diesel technology, diesels are more powerful, fuel efficient, and quieter (things previously viewed as unnecessarily needed). Moreover, the improvements in Nikola Tesla’s design have paralleled those of Rudolph Diesel’s design. Together they represent a quantum improvement in electric motors (EngineMotors), and also beneath the radar, and as a counterpart to Diesel Engine improvements, a vast and new family of ‘game-changing’ Diesel GENERATORS, that whenever pressed into service will have the ability to provide on-board support to those lithium Ion batteries. The latter will re-write the strategy of charging station placement and ultimately do the same to that ‘Driving Range Debacle’ of those EVs and Hybrids.
Go to a Truck Stop; ask a diesel truck driver, “when you idle your truck all night long, in order to have cabin heat (on cold winter nights), HOW MUCH FUEL DOES IT USE”. . . .
you’ll be surprised (diesel burn nothing at idle). Next, you’ll remember, in the old days, when you’d turn your gasoline engine (ignition) of the car would ‘run-on’ when it was off.. . .that was called ‘dieseling’ – running without fuel.
Never once was the term ‘Diesel’ mentioned; Freightliner is the ‘Truck Division’ of Mercedes America; In the U.S., Diesel 18 wheelers transport, more nearly 98% of goods; and existing Diesels transport 100% of all new automobiles including EVs and Hybrids to market (though I haven’t researched how Tesla’s are delivered).
Remember, diesel fuel has a different ‘flash-point’. Diesel fuel is only 40 octane, which compared to unleaded ‘regular’ gasoline (high flash point) @ 87 octane, will ordinarily emit a lesser carbon exhaust (by simple math, 50% less).
Finally, inasmuch as the Diesel was never designed to operate on a ‘fossil fuel’, what is the Cost/Benefit of growing and refining 10 million acres of non-food agricultural ‘veggies’, that could be ‘burned’ with little, if any, carbon emission?