Truck manufacturers improve fuel efficiency

May 1, 2008
Truck manufacturers introduced a variety of fuel-saving products at Mid-America. Here is a sample of hybrid powered and alternatively fueled products

Truck manufacturers introduced a variety of fuel-saving products at Mid-America. Here is a sample of hybrid powered and alternatively fueled products that were displayed this year.

New hybrids from Kenworth

Kenworth will begin full production of its new fuel-efficient medium duty, diesel-electric hybrid T270 Class 6 and T370 Class 7 conventional models trucks this summer. These hybrids are expected to enhance fuel economy by up to 30% percent in pick-up and delivery applications and up to 50% in utility operations.

The vehicles qualify for a maximum federal tax credit of $6,000 for Class 6 vehicles and $12,000 for Class 7s.

The Kenworth hybrids use an integral transmission-mounted motor/generator; frame-mounted 340-volt, lithium-ion battery pack; and dedicated power management system.

Advanced powertrain controls monitor driving conditions and automatically select the ideal power mode, smoothly switching among electric only, combined diesel and electric, and diesel only power modes. Electricity generated through regenerative braking is stored and used for acceleration, assisting the diesel engine.

The hybrid system is monitored through a dash display. As the power requirements for different driving conditions change, the screen constantly updates the driver on system status.

The Kenworth T270 and T370 hybrids use a Paccar PX-6 engine rated from 200 to 300 horsepower and 520 to 620 pound feet of torque backed to an Eaton 6-speed UltraShift automated transmission and the Eaton hybrid system.

In addition to hybrid power, Kenworth plans to begin production of its T800 liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks in 2009. The company also announced that its Clean Power no-idle system can now be ordered as a factory-installed option on new W900s and T800s equipped with Kenworth's 72-inch AeroCab sleeper. The system uses dedicated, advanced deep-cycle batteries that power a thermal storage cooler with 21,000 BTUs of cooling capacity.

Peterbilt details product updgrades

Peterbilt Motors will begin full production of its Model 330 and Model 335 medium duty hybrid vehicles this summer. The models feature the Eaton Hybrid Power system and provide a 30% improvement in fuel economy in an urban driving cycle.

The vehicles use a parallel hybrid system with an electric motor that assists the diesel engine with supplemental torque for improved fuel economy, explained Peterbilt general manager and Paccar vice president Bill Jackson. The system stores energy during stopping through a process called regenerative braking, and then reuses it to launch and accelerate the vehicle.

The Class 6 Model 330 is powered by a Paccar PX-6 engine rated at 260 horsepower and 620 pound-feet of torque. With the hybrid system engaged, horsepower increases to 300 and torque is limited to 860 pound-feet of torque. This configuration is ideal for stop-and-go use, such as urban pick-up and delivery, Jackson said.

The Class 7 Model 335 uses the hybrid electric system for both on-road driving and stationary PTO applications. Also powered by a Paccar PX-6 engine, it uses the system's lithium-ion batteries to electrically operate the PTO.

Both models are eligible to receive federal tax credits: a maximum $12,000 credit for Class 7 hybrids and a maximum $6,000 credit for Class 6 hybrids.

Full production of Peterbilt's hybrid low-cab-forward Model 320 Hydraulic Launch Assist (HLA) vehicle is set for the fourth quarter of this year. For vocational stop-and-go applications such as refuse collection, the HLA technology system captures the truck's kinetic energy during braking to assist in launching and accelerating the vehicle.

“Testing has proven a significant improvement in fuel economy, and indicated the potential to reduce annual brake re-alignment services by 50 percent,” said Jackson.

Starting in June, Peterbilt's ComfortClass system — a battery-powered climate control system — will be available on 63-inch sleeper configurations. The system is currently available on its Class 8 vehicles equipped with a 70-inch Unibilt sleeper.

A combination of batteries and a thermal storage cooler, the ComfortClass provides a temperature-controlled environment and 110-volt electrical power without the need for the engine to run for up to 10 hours.

“The system can reduce annual fuel consumption by approximately 8 percent resulting in a reduction of operating expenses by as much as $5,000 a year, per vehicle,” said Landon Sproull, Peterbilt chief engineer.

In cold climates, the ComfortClass system uses a small diesel-fired heating unit mounted under the bunk, Sproull said. Also thermostatically controlled, with ducting below the bunk, the unit keeps the sleeper and cab warm.

Peterbilt has partnered with Cummins Westport to develop a natural gas version of its Model 386. The truck will have a Cummins ISX engine rated at 400 to 450 horsepower, and up to 1,750 pound-feet of torque.

Provisions for mounting the system's LNG tanks, fuel pumps, and associated electronics, will all be included.

To run on natural gas, the injectors in the Cummins ISX engine are replaced with Westport's High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) units. These are able to separately and independently meter, time, and inject diesel and high pressure natural gas directly into the combustion chamber.

A small diesel pilot injection is used at all times to provide an initial combustion source, with the majority of the fuel energy being delivered through the natural gas injection.

International power unit saves fuel

Beginning this fall, International's proprietary MaxxPower auxiliary power unit will be available as a fully integrated factory-installed and factory-warranted option on International Trucks. The unit saves fuel by automatically turning off the engine after 10 minutes of idling.

“MaxxPower will allow the average long haul tractor owner to reduce fuel costs by almost $40,000 over a five-year period,” the company said. “It will cost the average buyer approximately $7,500 and pay for itself in roughly the first year of use.”

Rounding out International's ProStar lineup of on-highway aerodynamic tractors is the new ProStar Skyrise, which provides more than 53 cubic feet of storage, and the 113-inch BBC model.

Thermo King showcases new technologies

Thermo King has launched several new products, among them a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and an Extreme Arctic Kit for its TriPac anti-idle solution, and offered a glimpse at other innovations coming soon.

The Extreme Arctic Kit for the TriPac Hybrid Auxiliary Idle Reduction and Temperature Management System has been designed for lower operating costs and longer engine life, especially in cold weather.

Numerous studies have shown that the majority of mechanical engine wear, up to 90 percent, occurs during engine start-up, said Craig Fisher, director of marketing, Thermo King Americas. “Cold weather start-up is potentially even more damaging as oil pressure will vary widely during the first several minutes of a cold-engine start.”

To avoid this situation, the Extreme Arctic Kit includes both a coolant and oil heater to ensure that engine wear is no different than during warm weather starts.

When the TriPac system senses a coolant temperature below 30°F, the system automatically starts the TriPac engine and engages the coolant and oil heaters, explained Fisher. The engine then circulates the coolant between the engine block and the TriPac, continuously monitoring the coolant temperature until it reaches 60°F.

“With the Extreme Arctic Kit, the TriPac system not only keeps the driver comfortable in the coldest of environments, it now makes sure the tractor starts easily every time with minimal wear and tear,” Fisher said,

The diesel particulate filter (DPF) for the TriPac has been designed to meet auxiliary power unit (APU) emissions requirements required by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for APUs running in California.

Available as an aftermarket or original equipment option, the DPF has been submitted for CARB approval and is expected to be available this spring 2008.

Thermo King also displayed its new SLX trailer refrigeration unit, built for improved performance, reduced environmental impact, and lower cost of ownership.

The unit, launched late last year in Europe, “has significantly upsized refrigeration components that relate to performance such that engine operating speeds have been reduced with no loss in performance,” said Fisher. “Slower engine speeds give a quieter engine, which uses less fuel and prolongs the life of moving parts to increase reliability.”

Thermo King is putting the finishing touches on a high-tech air purification type system for refrigerated trailers. It is designed to protect air and surfaces from bacteria, mold, fungi, and viruses, and improve the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables and other perishable products.

The Environment Management System (EMS) is a trailer environment management system that “will reduce airborne pathogens inside by up to 99.9 percent by sanitizing all exposed surfaces,” said Fisher. “It will extend product life on average by about 30 percent, reduce shrink by about 15 percent, and greatly increase food safety.

“We believe this product will revolutionize this industry. Put the EMS inside a trailer and it will essentially kill anything bad that is going on in it that could possibly harm food.”

Carrier Transicold enhances product lineup

Carrier Transicold's 2008 trailer product line-up offers better fuel efficiency and lower sound output than previous models, and features engines that “significantly surpass” US Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board (CARB) particulate emissions requirements, the company said.

As a result of various upgrades and improvements, the trailer refrigeration unit engines are 1 to 2 percent more fuel efficient than its previous engines and they comply with the EPA interim Tier 4 standards (Tier 4i), which lowers emissions by 50 percent for trailer refrigeration units with 25 to 50 horsepower engines.

The company's Supra truck refrigeration units are equipped with engines certified to the EPA Tier 4 standards. The Tier 4 requirement, which took effect for 2008 model-year engines, reduces particulate matter output by 50 percent compared to the previous standard.

Carrier Transicold's hybrid Vector 1800MT multi-temperature trailer refrigeration system addresses the steady rise in diesel fuel prices by incorporating electric standby. This capability allows the refrigeration unit to be plugged into an electrical power supply while stationary.

The electric standby mode offers additional benefits, he added, such as eliminating exhaust emissions and engine noise, and conserving fuel for highway use.

Gearing up for new exhaust regulations

Two companies announced plans for the 2010 diesel exhaust regulations.

Brenntag, a worldwide distributor of automotive grade urea, announced that it will provide diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) for selective catalytic reduction (SCR) engines throughout the United States and Canada. Urea will be available in 2.5-gallon containers, 55-gallon drums, 275-gallon intermediate bulk containers (IBC), and in bulk.

The company already has more than 120 locations and currently distributes some 150,000 gallons of DEF every day.

SCR is one of the technologies under development to meet the US Environmental Protection Agency's 2010 diesel emissions standards. A major concern about the adoption of SCR is whether an infrastructure will be place by 2010.

In simple terms, with SCR, a fine mist of diesel exhaust fluid, also known as urea, is added into the exhaust to react and neutralize the nitrogen oxide molecules, explained the company's Alan Smith. A separate tank is fitted on the truck to house the urea.

The rate of consumption for the fluid is 2 to 3 percent per gallon of diesel fuel, he said. It is estimated that one gallon of urea will take a truck about 250 miles.

If a truck runs out of urea, the engine will automatically re-rate, giving the driver a chance to pull off the road and refill. Otherwise, the engine will gradually shut down.

Meanwhile, Detroit Diesel announced that it will adopt Daimler's BlueTec selective catalytic reduction (SCR) clean diesel engine technology to help it meet the upcoming stringent US EPA 2010 emissions standards for heavy duty truck engines.

The BlueTec system treats the downstream exhaust with DEF. This fluid works with the heat of the exhaust and a catalyst to convert nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions into harmless levels of pure nitrogen and water vapor, said Mike Delaney, senior vice president of marketing of Daimler Trucks North America, of which Detroit Diesel is a division.

Delaney said the BlueTec system with SCR technology is projected to increase fuel efficiency by about 3 to 5 percent.

Grote Industries adds safety systems

Grote Industries has expanded its product offerings with the introduction of a variety of new products: Hi Count LED (light emitting diode) signal lamps; SuperNova round and oval LED stop, tail, turn lamps; SuperNova LED single-diode back-up lamps; and Per-Lux LED (light emitting diodes) WhiteLight work lamps.

Hi Count LED lamps are designed for quick “plug-and-go” retrofit by utilizing standard incandescent wire termination, and are interchangeable with either traditional incandescent or newer LED technology.

The SuperNova lamp line is intended for fleets desiring to upgrade from incandescent lights to LEDs. New to the line are 4-inch round and 6-inch oval LED stop, tail, turn, lamps.

Grote's new SuperNova LED single diode back-up lamp “is a more reliable and advanced back-up lamp featuring high output LEDs to provide the best light output, rivaling multi-diode versions,” the company said.

The lamps are fully encapsulated in a specially formulated potting that provides thermal protection, as well as corrosion, shock, and moisture resistance.

Unlike other low-cost alternatives, Grote's Hi Count LED and SuperNova lamps meet all FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) and SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) requirements for visibility and safety.

ArvinMeritor discusses industry trends

ArvinMeritor's Commercial Vehicle Systems' executives reviewed market developments and provided some insight to its future plans during a press event held at Mid-America.

The company continues to leverage technology benefits it has developed from supplying axles and brakes for military vehicles and other severe-service applications, by applying it to the commercial vehicle marketplace, said Joe Plomin, vice president-truck. Plomin pointed out that military vehicle components are designed and manufactured for a 20-year life cycle, they are the result of meeting the government's detailed performance specs, and that military truck components are serviced and maintained by mechanics that come and go on a 14-month rotation.

Expect additional electronically controlled truck and trailer products in the future that will add incremental safety features to existing components. An example: the recent introduction of OnGuard, a new collision safety system with active braking. “This gives us the opportunity to add safety features without adding additional complexity or other redundant systems,” Plomin said.

Plomin said NHTSA's move to reduce minimum stopping distances for trucks might be able to be met by current cam brake products, but the majority of vehicles will require either a higher performance cam brake, or a disc brake to meet the anticipated reductions in stopping distances.

ArvinMeritor purchased Mascot Truck Parts in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada late last year, said Joe Mejaly, vice president-Aftermarket. Mascot is a major remanufacturer of transmissions, drive axle carriers, steering gears, and drivelines. The company has produced remanufactured components since 2000 for Navistar's ReNEWed program as the exclusive supplier.

Trailer axles have been added to the company's portfolio, specifically for the intermodal chassis markets, and most recently for linehaul trailer axles.

Air-Weigh offers entry-level on-board scale

Air-Weigh has expanded its on-board scale product family with the addition of the QuickLoad scale designed for use on dedicated tractor trailer configurations and straight trucks.

The new scale monitors steer, drive, and trailer axles on the display and automatically calculates gross vehicle weight (GVW) and net payload. The QuickLoad comes standard with warning and overweight alarm outputs and dual-point calibration.

With several air and axle deflection sensor kits available, the new scale can be tailored to a variety of truck, tractor, and dedicated tractor trailer configurations.

The QuickLoad on-board scale converts tractor and trailer suspension loads to an accurate on-the-ground weight. By comparing empty and loaded axle group weights with empty and loaded suspension pressures, the scale can be calibrated to display accurate weights at any suspension load.

The scale's accuracy is not affected by altitude, temperature, or humidity.

QuickLoad configurations are available starting as low as $400.