U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Clean Cities

SuperTruck Making Leaps in Fuel Efficiency

February 26, 2014

Pedestrians passing by the Energy Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., on February 19 saw quite a strange sight—an ultra-modern 18-wheeler, Class 8 tractor-trailer parked outside the headquarters building. This is no ordinary truck—it’s called a SuperTruck, a demonstration vehicle that is part of the Energy Department’s SuperTruck initiative. This program’s goal is to develop tractor-trailers that are 50% more efficient than baseline models by 2015.

The truck on display, developed by heavy-duty manufacturers Cummins and Peterbilt, has exceeded this goal. Since 2010, the truck has demonstrated a 20% increase in engine efficiency and a 70% increase in freight efficiency, reaching over 10 miles per gallon under real world driving conditions on a Class 8 tractor-trailer. In comparison, an average Class 8 truck typically gets 5.8 miles to the gallon. This accomplishment is so impressive that the SuperTruck served as a backdrop to President Obama’s announcement of new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

Improving the efficiency of long-haul tractor-trailers is one of the many ways that the United States can reduce the amount of petroleum we use and the carbon pollution we produce. Commercial trucks, which include Class 8 vehicles, haul as much as 80% of the goods transported in the country. Although they only make up 4% of vehicles on the road, they use about 20% of the fuel consumed. For the complete story, see the EERE Blog.