Big rigs are big polluters, but they are also a big help. Semi-trailer trucks distribute most of the supplies and produce throughout the nation. There are places where trains and airplanes can’t reach and it’s up to the big rigs to get our lettuce, ice cream and new iPhones to us. But at an average of six miles per gallon, those big rigs aren’t very efficient. In response, the U.S. Department of Transportation started the SuperTruck challenge—and one of the entries is an 18-wheeler that takes half as much gas as the rigs currently rolling on U.S. highways.
Daimler North America has come up with the Freightliner SuperTruck, a truck that has increased fuel-efficiency by over 115 percent of the baseline standard. Much of the improvement comes from readjusting the overall design. “Adding an adjustable ride height, rear wheel fairings and articulated side extenders to cover gaps between the cab and trailer. The SuperTruck is also 700 pounds lighter than the baseline, thanks to a reengineered tractor frame,” according to Engadget.com.
The SuperTruck also has a 10.7 liter hybrid diesel-electric engine that uses waste heat from the exhaust and brakes to supplement the fuel needs and reducing overall pollution. Solar panels on the roof provide enough power to run the air conditioning on sunny days and the truck uses GPS tracking to automatically shift gears up or down to adjust the vehicle’s speed and maximize fuel efficiency based on anticipated terrain changes. In a recent test run, the truck rated 12.2 miles per gallon while hauling 65,000 pounds of cargo. That’s a start.
Images via Freightliner