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Freightliner lightens up, doubles efficiency of big rigs

Freightliner lightens up,
doubles efficiency of big rigs

by TODD STOLARSKI | April 17, 2015

The big rigs traveling America's highways have long been a double-edged sword. They reliably deliver our perishable produce and new iWhatever devices to the outer reaches where rails and planes cannot access. But relying on fossil fuels and averaging roughly six miles to the gallon, they wouldn't exactly be classified as environmentally friendly. Enter, the U.S. Dept. of Energy's SuperTruck Challenge, the brainchild of its Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

Up to the challenge, Daimler North America developed the fuel-efficient Freightliner SuperTruck. The Portland OR-based automaker's Freightliner made engineering improvements over its older 18-wheeled siblings, doubling its MPG over its 2009 baseline standard while decreasing pollution and increasing overall efficiency. To achieve this, the big rig for instance uses GPS tech to monitor and modify vehicle speed based on anticipated terrain changes. And placing solar panels on the truck cab's roof contributes enough energy to power the AC on hot summer days.

Coming in at a svelte 700 lbs slimmer than normal, Freightliner SuperTruck also boasts a 10.7 liter hybrid diesel-electric engine which allows it to utilize excess heat from the exhaust and brake systems, boosting fuel performance while cutting emissions. On a recent 312-mi. trial run between San Antonio and Dallas, the Freightliner SuperTruck averaged 12.2 MPG while hauling 65,000 lbs at 65 MPH. Overall, that's a 115% freight efficiency improvement for a Class 8 long-haul truck. Just super!

To learn more, watch the video below and see the related story at Engadget.

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