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Kenworth unveils futuristic SuperTruck 2

12 June 2024

Kenworth showcased its SuperTruck 2 demonstrator vehicle at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Las Vegas last month, a project developed over six years in collaboration with the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) SuperTruck programme. The aim of the project was to challenge truck makers to improve freight efficiency using a diesel engine as the main power source.

Jim Walenczak, general manager of Kenworth and PACCAR vice president says the goal was a 100% freight efficiency improvement over the 2009 Kenworth T660. “We surpassed that model’s performance to improve efficiency by up to 136%.

The SuperTruck 2 achieved this through a combination of enhanced fuel efficiency, up to 18.3 litres per 100km, and a reduction in weight by around 3175kg, enabling greater payload capacity with an ultra-fuel-efficient tractor-trailer combination. “SuperTruck 2 allowed us to investigate new technologies early on, enabling quicker commercialisation,” Walenczak added.

The distinctive look of the Kenworth is striking, but the powertrain and driver amenities are equally impressive. Joe Adams, Kenworth’s chief engineer, says the team “started with an ideal aerodynamic shape for the SuperTruck 2, aiming to push the limits in reducing aerodynamic drag while incorporating a new powertrain”.

Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 employs a PACCAR MX-11 engine, rated at 440hp, paired with a PACCAR TX-12 automated transmission. It also features a 48-volt electric generator, creating a mild hybrid system that leverages next-generation lithium-ion batteries recharged through regenerative braking. The system powers electric fans, steering, and coolant and HVAC pumps, previously driven mechanically, while also offering an overnight engine-off ‘hoteling’ solution.

The truck also features a “centre driver” cab and a new sleeper compartment, resembling a bullet train. Jonathan Duncan, Kenworth’s design director, remarked, “We wanted to show something dynamic and futuristic. Our headlamps occupy the entire front fender, making it striking on the road.”

The design allows for a 48% reduction in drag compared to Kenworth’s baseline vehicle, and the layout is powertrain agnostic, supporting zero and near-zero emission solutions like fuel cells and hydrogen tanks. Meanwhile, Adams highlighted the importance of payload efficiency, noting the combination weighs 11,838kg, saving over three tonnes compared to a typical tractor-trailer. “This enables fleets to carry more goods or reduce weight for better efficiency.”

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Source: transporttalk

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