NASHVILLE—While the future of vehicle electrification and autonomy were hot topics at American Trucking Associations' Management Conference & Exhibition (MCE), Mack Trucks used its exhibit space to focus on today’s fundamentals: operational efficiency and driver comfort.
Specifically, Mack highlighted a factory-installed electric Auxiliary Power Unit (eAPU) for its 70-inch Mack Anthem sleeper models. The Idle Free Series 5000 eAPU offers customers increased air-cooling capacity, reduced idling and simplified maintenance for improved total cost of ownership.
“Reduced idle time means increased fuel savings and engine life for Mack customers, along with decreased engine maintenance costs,” said Stu Russoli, Mack Trucks' highway product manager. “The Idle Free eAPU also improves driver comfort because of its high-performing electric cooling capacity, which runs more quietly than diesel-powered APUs and can help drivers have uninterrupted rest time.”
Speaking with FleetOwner, Russoli explained that, over the years, Mack has considered a number of APU options to offer in a factory package, but customers would always have different preferences, and Mack’s option center continues to receive “about equal” demand for diesel and electric APUs. But in speaking with customers around the country, the electric option emerged as the clear choice for the future.
“And there are still other great solutions, but this [Idle Free unit] fit what we wanted to do and what we're trying to accomplish,” Russoli said. “It’s emissions free, so you could bring it into any state and not have an issue with it.”
The Idle Free eAPU features a 10,000 BTU compressor and a three-speed evaporator fan to direct the airflow to the sleeper without duct work, allowing the driver to easily adjust temperature and fan speed from the control panel located on the evaporator in the bunk.
As to performance, the eAPU—which charges while the truck is on the road—will cool the cab for nine hours at a setting on 73 degrees Fahrenheit with an outside temperature of 83 degrees, representative of a warm evening in much of the country, according to Russoli.
The system can be retrofitted with an automatic start-stop kit that allows the truck to automatically idle to recharge the batteries, turning the engine off when they are fully charged.
The Idle Free eAPU option is installed at Lehigh Valley Operations, Macungie, Pennsylvania, where all Mack Class 8 vehicles for North America and export are assembled.
The Anthem featured at the MCE show was spec’d with the 13-liter Mack MP 8HE+ efficiency package, which includes the Mack MP8 engine, Mack mDRIVE automated manual transmission, Mack Predictive Cruise and multiple aerodynamic upgrades. When compared with the baseline Anthem model, customers can see up to a 13% fuel efficiency improvement with the MP8HE+ package, according to the OEM.
Mack’s revised MP8HE engine, which utilizes Mack Energy Recovery Technology, is instrumental in the fuel efficiency gains realized in the HE+ efficiency package. Energy Recovery Technology captures waste energy from the engine exhaust and converts it back to mechanical energy, which is then delivered to the engine crankshaft for increased torque.
Also standard on the Mack Anthem is Mack GuardDog Connect, an uptime solutions service that proactively monitors the truck to help prevent unplanned downtime events, and driver-activated Mack Over The Air (OTA). Mack OTA allows customers to implement software updates themselves whenever it’s most convenient for them. The driver download feature is factory-equipped on models built at Lehigh Valley Operations since Nov. 30, 2020.
The Idle Free eAPU will be available for order in the second quarter next year.