Volvo SuperTruck 2 improves efficiency by 134%

Oct. 10, 2023
Volvo Trucks incorporated aerodynamics and weight reduction to improve ton-mile-per-gallon.

SuperTruck 2 exceeds the goals set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), according to its builder, Volvo Trucks North America. The DOE, in setting up the public-private SuperTruck 2 program, wanted the truck manufacturer to post 100% freight efficiency improvement over its 2009 baseline.

Volvo Trucks says its SuperTruck 2 demonstrates a 134% improvement, measured as ton-mile-per-gallon.

“Partnering with the DOE for the SuperTruck program provides an exciting opportunity to push the technology envelope to see what’s technically possible for heavy-duty transportation and which solutions can be scaled into production, but equally important, which solutions don’t work for scaled production,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, in a statement. “We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of our advanced engineering team who worked on SuperTruck 2. A program of this magnitude pushes the limits in every possible area—creativity, problem solving, feasibility and innovation, to which we feel we did successfully. Some of the technologies on SuperTruck 2 will most certainly shape the future of trucking and change everything we once thought possible.” 

 What is the SuperTruck 2 program?

DOE’s SuperTruck 2 program promotes research and development to improve the freight-efficiency of heavy-duty Class 8 long-haul tractor-trailer trucks. The program aims to accelerate the development of cost-effective advanced efficiency technologies not currently available in the market. For SuperTruck 2, all participating OEMs were given the goal of demonstrating more than 100% improvement in vehicle freight efficiency. Volvo Trucks met that goal and exceeded its internal stretch goal of 120% improvement relative to the 2009 baseline, achieving 134% under real world demonstrator validation. 

Volvo Trucks started with a wedge-shaped cab shaped from front to back, including a raked and wraparound windshield, a front end designed around a downsized cooling package, a fully aerodynamic trailer with gap fairings, skirts, and boat tail, as well as an adjustable ride height. Volvo Trucks also replaced the traditional hood and cab mounted mirrors with a streamlined camera monitoring system to reduce the drag by more than 4%.  

The entire tractor trailer combination was designed to smoothly displace air with minimal resistance, resulting in 50% lower drag than Volvo Trucks’ 2009 baseline.

Curb weight was reduced by 27,000 pounds for the combined truck and the trailer. Volvo Trucks used a 4x2 configuration, which is not common in the U.S. but is frequently utilized in Europe using fewer axles for the same payload. The truck was designed so it could be applied to a 6x2 or 6x4 configuration, but that was not part of the specific demonstrator validation for this program. The shorter cab design is lightweight and paired with an aluminum chassis that uses a lightweight optimized drive axle system with a single composite driveshaft.  

Volvo Trucks worked with the project partner trailer manufacturer to incorporate a custom, lightweight aerodynamic trailer with an optimized aerodynamic shape of the full truck and trailer to appear as one seamless unit. Volvo Trucks also worked with the project partner tire manufacturer to include lightweight, smaller 19.5-inch advanced low-friction tires on both the SuperTruck 2 and its custom trailer.  

“The project team deliberately focused on driving in real world conditions for testing,” said Voorhoeve. “Data wasn’t just gathered in a lab or on flat, empty roads with optimal conditions and a light load. Instead, our SuperTruck 2 was tested in real-world scenarios on roads with traffic and elevation changes with a GCVW of 65,000 pounds.”

Source: Volvo Trucks North America

About the Author

Rod Sutton

I have served as the editorial lead of Construction Equipment magazine and since 2001. 

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