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Kenworth's SuperTruck 2 at ACT Expo, Las Vegas 2024

Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 Unveiled at ACT Expo 2024

Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2: A Revolutionary Design

At the 2024 Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 was one of the standout exhibits. This futuristic truck, developed over six years with funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Paccar, represents a significant leap forward in trucking technology and efficiency.

Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 features a unique aerodynamic design, significantly enhancing fuel efficiency. Key to this design is the powertrain placement between the frame rails, allowing the engine to be lowered and positioned behind the front axle. This configuration also enables a sleeker front end with fully enclosed wheels, reducing drag by 48% compared to Kenworth’s baseline truck.

Impressive Fuel Efficiency and Weight Reduction

Kenworth aimed to improve freight efficiency by 100% over their 2009 T660 model but surpassed this goal with a 136% increase. This was achieved by boosting fuel efficiency to an impressive 12.8 mpg and reducing the truck’s weight by over 7,000 pounds. The combined weight of the tractor-trailer is now 26,100 pounds, which is 7,100 pounds lighter than typical configurations. This reduction allows for greater payload capacity and reduced fuel consumption.

The SuperTruck 2 is powered by a Paccar MX-11 engine with 440 horsepower, coupled with a TX-12 automated transmission and a 48-volt electric generator, forming a mild hybrid system. This system includes next-generation lithium-ion batteries that recharge through regenerative braking, powering electric fans, steering, and HVAC pumps. This hybrid setup not only improves engine efficiency to 55.7% but also provides an overnight engine-off solution for hotel loads.

Enhanced Driver Experience

Kenworth did not compromise on driver comfort and convenience. Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 features a center driver cab, providing enhanced visibility and a unique driving experience. The sleeper compartment is redesigned with a fold-down bed over a sofa, creating distinct sleeping and sitting areas. Additionally, a rotating tabletop allows drivers to eat or work without needing to move items off the table.

The truck also features a variable suspension system that can adjust the ride height to optimize aerodynamics and handle different road conditions. The elimination of physical mirrors, replaced by an integrated digital mirror system, further reduces drag while providing enhanced rearview monitoring and night vision capabilities.

Industry Reactions and Potential Impact

The SuperTruck 2 has sparked significant discussion in the trucking community. Forum users have highlighted the benefits of weight reduction, noting that the lighter truck can carry more goods, potentially reducing the number of trips needed for large shipments. This not only improves efficiency but also decreases road wear and fuel consumption.

However, some industry members have raised concerns about the practicality of the center driver position and the absence of a visible passenger seat. Questions about the space for partners or trainers suggest that practical considerations for daily operations may still need addressing.

Future Implications

Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 is designed to be powertrain agnostic, supporting various fuel types such as diesel, hydrogen, natural gas, or batteries without significant modifications to the cab. This flexibility positions it well for future regulatory changes and technological advancements.

Kenworth’s project also aligns with the broader goals of the DOE’s SuperTruck programs, which have progressively pushed for greater efficiency and reduced emissions in the trucking industry. The technologies developed through these initiatives are expected to make their way into production models, benefiting the entire industry.

Looking Ahead

Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 is a testament to the potential of innovative engineering and collaborative funding to drive significant advancements in truck design and efficiency. With its aerodynamic design, advanced hybrid powertrain, and driver-centric features, the SuperTruck 2 sets a new standard for the future of trucking. As these technologies transition from concept to production, the trucking industry can look forward to a more efficient, sustainable, and comfortable driving experience.

Photo Credit: Kenworth

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