DTNA has identified several key areas where technology can be innovated to improve efficiency: tractor aerodynamics, powertrain, energy management, and low-rolling resistance tires. The company focuses on developing core components and systems that could potentially be implemented for customers.
DTNA introduced the first version of the SuperTruck in 2015, which turned out to be a success. Now, the company has surpassed expectations in all the key areas and has doubled the freight efficiency of the truck compared to its predecessor.
Regarding aerodynamics, engineers managed to reduce the overall aerodynamic drag of the SuperTruck II by more than 12% over the first variant. They didn't change the truck's structure; instead, they used the existing shape of the Cascadia model and modified its design to maximize aerodynamic efficiency.
Let's see how engineers played with the design – first, the hood, bumper, and chassis fairing are a perfect fit for the existing cab structure, and they're engineered to enable undisturbed airflow around the truck. Furthermore, the door, grille, and air intakes were transformed to be as seamless as possible to minimize air turbulence.
Finally, the Active Aero elements provide crucial aerodynamic improvements. The active side extenders and a roof spoiler system close the trailer gap by up to four inches when the vehicle reaches highway speeds. An enhanced Aerodynamic Height Control system lowers the truck inches off the pavement. A mirrorless camera system completes the aerodynamic upgrades to avoid drag from exterior mirrors.
The powertrain plays a significant role in the overall efficiency of the truck – the SuperTruck II boasts the most efficient powertrain a Freightliner truck has ever seen. It allows for a 5.7 percent fuel consumption reduction over SuperTruck I by decreasing drag overdrive, and a 48 V electrical system uses lithium-ion batteries to lower fuel consumption. Moreover, a new electric A/C helps keep the driver cool and can continue running even when the engine is turned off.
Lastly, other critical elements for increasing efficiency are the tires – by using fresh, specifically engineered tires, energy consumption can be cut down, and maintenance downtime can be diminished by minimizing wear and tear.