More than two million semis travel some 120,000 miles apiece along America's arterial highways every year at an average efficiency of just 6 MPG. Six. Miles per gallon 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 gas.
It's called the Class 8 Peterbilt 587. Developed over a four year span as part of Peterilt and Cummins $77.6 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 maximize fuel economy, and low-rolling resistance tires. At 65,000 pounds, the 587 is also 15,000 pounds lighter than the legal maximum.
As a result, the 587 notched a relatively impressive 9.9 MPG—a 54 percent increase over the national standard—during a series of 11 runs along a 312-mile stretch of U.S. Route 287 between Fort Worth and Vernon, Texas. That improved efficiency translates into a $25,000 annual fuel savings per truck and a 34 percent drop in green house gasses. What's more, according to a Cummins press release,
In addition to the fuel economy improvements, the truck also demonstrated a 61 percent improvement in freight efficiency during testing compared to a baseline truck driving the same route. That significantly exceeded the 50 percent 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.