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Kenworth SuperTruck 2 Is A Hybrid, Bullet Train Of A Semi

  • Kenworth has unveiled their eco-friendly SuperTruck 2.
  • It features an aerodynamic design that provides a 48% reduction in drag.
  • The model also sports a lightweight design and an efficient diesel engine with a 48V mild hybrid system.

Honda isn’t the only company making a splash at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo as Kenworth has unveiled their SuperTruck 2. It’s the latest in a series of eco-friendly semis that were created as part of a Department of Energy program.

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Looking more like a bullet train than a semi, the Kenworth SuperTruck 2 “pushes the limits in reducing aerodynamic drag.” As part of this effort, the model has streamlined styling and fully enclosed wheels. The SuperTruck also has digital side mirrors that not only reduce drag, but also help to provide improved visibility.

More: Freightliner SuperTruck 2 Debuts With Active Aero, Efficient Diesel

Elsewhere, there’s a sleek greenhouse and expressive lighting units. The model also sports a variable suspension, which can adjust the ride height to optimize clearance or aerodynamics.

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The futuristic styling continues inside as there’s a central driver seat and a 15-inch digital instrument cluster. The latter promises to provide advanced driver notifications, a configurable layout, and user-friendly menus.

Behind the cockpit is a sleeping area with a bed that folds down over a sofa. They’re joined by a movable table and rear air vents.

Power is provided by a PACCAR MX-11 engine, which produces 440 hp (328 kW / 446 PS) and features a 48V mild hybrid system that uses next-generation lithium-ion batteries. The latter enabled the truck to be outfitted with electric fans and electric steering as well as electric coolant and HVAC pumps. All of these were previously mechanically driven and Kenworth noted the engine fan alone could draw up to 80 hp (60 kW / 81 PS).

Besides helping to improve efficiency, the hybrid system allows for overnight ‘hoteling’ with the engine off. This could help to significantly reduce emissions as truck drivers wouldn’t need to keep their vehicles running while they catch some shuteye.

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Maarten Meijer, PACCAR’s senior engineering manager for advanced technology, said “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.”

Besides a more efficient engine, the SuperTruck 2 and its trailer are surprisingly lightweight. As Kenworth explained, the tractor and trailer weigh a combined 26,100 lbs (11,839 kg), which is 7,100 lbs (3,221 kg) less than a typical setup.

To help reduce mass, they’ve been equipped with ten concept tires that cut 355 lbs (161 kg) of weight and have an extremely low rolling resistance. The more efficient engine also allowed for the use of a smaller 80 gallon (303 liter) fuel tank, which saves weight will also keeping the range unchanged.

 Kenworth SuperTruck 2 Is A Hybrid, Bullet Train Of A Semi

Kenworth was targeting a 100% freight efficiency improvement over the 2009 T660, which was “arguably the most fuel-efficient truck in the industry” at the time, and they ended up surpassing that goal by hitting a 136% improvement. The model also has a fuel efficiency improvement of up to 12.8 mpg and a 48% reduction in drag.

While the SuperTruck 2 is diesel-powered, the company said it was designed to accommodate fuel cells, hydrogen tanks, natural gas tanks, or batteries without changing the basic cab.

Kenworth general manager Jim Walenczak added, “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.”

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