Home Truck News Kenworth showcases SuperTruck 2 - Truck News

Kenworth showcases SuperTruck 2 – Truck News

Kenworth showed for the first time the results of its SuperTruck 2 initiative, claiming a 136% improvement in freight efficiency.

The truck was displayed at ACT Expo and was developed over a six-year period as part of the U.S. Department of Energy program that shared the cost with Paccar.

Kenworth SuperTruck 2
(Photo: Kenworth)

“The goal was a 100% freight efficiency improvement over our 2009 Kenworth T660, which at the time was arguably the most fuel-efficient truck in the industry. We surpassed the performance of that model to improve efficiency by up to 136%,” said Jim Walenczak, general manager of Kenworth and Paccar vice-president.

“This was realized through a combination of improving fuel efficiency up to 12.8 mpg while reducing our combination weight by more than 7,000 lb. The result was the ability to haul more payload with an ultra-fuel-efficient tractor-trailer combination. SuperTruck 2 provided us with the opportunity to investigate new technologies in an early stage. We learned what worked and what didn’t. As a result, we are able to commercialize new technologies much quicker than we would have otherwise.”

In addition to a futuristic, streamlined shape, the truck has powertrain and driver amenity upgrades as well.

“We started with an ideal aerodynamic shape when we started the design of SuperTruck 2,” said Joe Adams, Kenworth’s chief engineer. “At the start of the project, we asked ourselves, ‘What does the next generation vehicle for long haul transportation look like?’ What we produced pushes the limits in reducing aerodynamic drag while it also incorporates a new powertrain. But, with everything Kenworth, we wanted the SuperTruck 2 to embody ‘The Driver’s Truck’. The result was a systematic approach to developing a futuristic looking, yet relevant vehicle with technologies that have the potential to be refined and commercialized.”

Kenworth SuperTruck 2 interior
(Photo: Kenworth)

The truck is powered by a Paccar MX-11 engine rated at 440 hp, mated to the Paccar TX-12 automated transmission. It also comes equipped with a 48-volt electric generator, creating a mild hybrid system. Batteries are recharged through regenerative braking and power the electric fans, steering and HVAC pumps, all of which are mechanically driven in production models.

Waste heat recovery also contributed to a 55.7% engine efficiency.

“We did this while keeping in mind the technologies we developed needed to be commercially viable,” said Maarten Meijer, Paccar’s senior engineering manager for advanced technology.

“Today’s modern diesel engine demonstrates around 47% efficiency. Reaching 55.7% was a major step forward and could only be done by applying new technologies that had not been explored until today. To put that efficiency number into perspective, if this engine were to go into production, it would lead to a 10% fuel efficiency improvement. That’s an astonishing number.”

The driver seat is in the center of the cab and a new sleeper compartment provides the look of a bullet train, officials said.

“We wanted to push this beyond just a demonstrator truck,” said Jonathan Duncan, Kenworth’s design director. “We wanted to show something dynamic and what the future of Kenworth might look like. Our headlamps take up the entire front fender of the truck. It’s striking — you can’t miss it as it’s going down the road.”

Joe Adams at ACT Expo
Kenworth chief engineer Joe Adams discusses SuperTruck 2 at ACT Expo. (Photo: James Menzies)

The powertrain sits between the frame rails, allowing the engine to be lowered and placed behind the front axle.

A variable suspension system adjusts ride height on the fly to improve aerodynamics, giving the truck a 48% reduction in drag compared to the baseline vehicle. 

The truck’s engine is diesel-fueled but Kenworth said the design is powertrain agnostic, capable of being fitted with fuel cells, hydrogen tanks or batteries without changes to the cab structure.

The truck and trailer combo weigh 26,100 lb., about 7,100 lb. less than a typical tractor-trailer today.

“These savings would give a fleet the option of running lighter with the same amount of goods they’d normally put in a trailer, or they could add 7,100 more pounds of payload,” said Adams.

“There were a lot of things that contributed to weight savings. The 10 new concept tires we used weighed 355 pounds less than ‘like’ tires currently on the market, and those tires also had an extremely low rolling resistance – measuring 4.2 on the CRR scale versus 5.0 for typical high-efficiency tires. We also found that less fuel was required with the more fuel-efficient powertrain – this allowed us to put on a smaller 80-gallon fuel tank to go the same distance as before. So, here again, we’re saving weight. It all builds upon itself.”

Physical mirrors were replaced with cameras and in-cab displays that provide night vision enhancements.

The sleeper features a bed that folds down over the sofa.  

“This provides a separate sleeping and sitting area,” Duncan said. “We also came up with a neat concept: having a tabletop that rotates down when you’re sitting on the sofa. You can actually eat or work then move the table to a different location without moving anything off the tabletop.”

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