Monster Machines: New 'Super Truck' Gets 4.2km/L -- Double The Big Rig Average

More than two million semis travel some 190,000km apiece along America's arterial highways every year at an average efficiency of just 2.55km per litre of diesel -- not even Hummers are that wasteful. However, a new "Super Truck" design by Peterbilt has shown it can go the same distance for half the fuel.

It's called the Class 8 Peterbilt 587. Developed over a four-year span as part of Peterilt and Cummins $US77.6 million "Super Truck" program, the 587 is built for efficiency. It's powered by a six-cylinder, Cummins ISX15 engine with 400-600 HP and features a host of enegry saving subsystems, including waste heat collectors, navigation guidance that automatically reroutes to maximise fuel economy, and low-rolling resistance tires. At 30,000kg, the 587 is also 6800kg lighter than the legal maximum.

As a result, the 587 notched a relatively impressive 4.2km/L -- a 54 per cent increase over the standard -- during a series of 11 runs along a 500km stretch of US Route 287 between Fort Worth and Vernon, Texas. That improved efficiency translates into a $US25,000 annual fuel savings per truck and a 34 per cent drop in greenhouse gases. What's more, according to a Cummins press release:

In addition to the fuel economy improvements, the truck also demonstrated a 61 per cent improvement in freight efficiency during testing compared to a baseline truck driving the same route. That significantly exceeded the 50 per cent SuperTruck program goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy. Freight efficiency is an important metric in the transportation industry that is based on payload weight and fuel efficiency expressed in ton-miles per gallon.

Perhaps most impressive is that this accomplishment didn't require a technological breakthrough to achieve, simply the intelligent integration of existing designs. In addition, nearly all of these improvements are fuel-agnostic in that they can just as easily be applied to rigs that run on natural gas or other alternative fuels.

[Tree Hugger, Cummins]

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