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Volvo » SuperTruck Concept

Volvo SuperTruck is a futuristic, heavy-duty vehicle that vastly improves fuel and freight efficiency. In response to an initiative from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Volvo SuperTruck – which could increase the fuel economy of 18-wheelers from about 6 mpg to more than 10 mpg – was developed with ExxonMobil engineers and other collaborators. Making up only 4 percent of the highway traffic, heavy-duty vehicles consume almost 20 percent of all fuel. And ExxonMobil forecasts that long term, these trucks will become the largest energy-consuming segment of the transportation sector.

Advanced aerodynamics, vehicle and powertrain technologies led to a freight efficiency improvement of 88 percent, and 70 percent of reduce of fuel consuption, the automaker reports, which exceeds the 50 percent improvement goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The truck, with an aluminum frame, is 3,000 pounds lighter and produces 40 percent less drag. Fairings along the back of the truck and trailer cover the tires and appear to be just inches above the road. A commenter questions how tires will be changed on the road since the low-riding fairings cover the tires.

Solar panels on top of the cab power the battery and interior lights. An 11-liter proprietary engine produces 425 horsepower. During road tests, “powertrain brake thermal efficiency reached 50 percent,” Volvo reports.

The SuperTruck initiative was created in 2010 to dramatically increase tractor-trailer fuel, engine and drivetrain efficiency. It challenged manufacturers to develop trucks that will exceed more stringent fuel-efficiency standards in the coming years. Current heavy-duty trucks often average less than 7 miles per gallon of diesel.

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