Volvo Trucks in the USA has revealed the SuperTruck 2 project it has been running in America  has exceeded the freight efficiency goals it established, thanks to aerodynamics and advanced engineering.

The Volvo SuperTruck 2 program is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, which tasked manufacturers to achieve a 100 per cent increase in freight efficiency over a 2009 baseline.

Volvo said the project exceeded the target, achieving a 134 per cent increase in freight efficiency.

The company revealed the SuperTruck 2 at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference  and Exhibition in Austin, Texas,  this week, by former Volvo Group Australia president, Peter Voorhoeve, who is now president of Volvo Truck North America.

“Partnering with the DOE for the SuperTruck program provides an exciting opportunity to push the technology envelope to see what’s technically possible for heavy-duty transportation and which solutions can be scaled into production, but equally important, which solutions don’t work for scaled production,” said Voorhoeve.

“We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of our advanced engineering team who worked on SuperTruck 2. A program of this magnitude pushes the limits in every possible area — creativity, problem solving, feasibility and innovation, to which we feel we did successfully. Some of the technologies on SuperTruck 2 will most certainly shape the future of trucking and change everything we once thought possible,” he said.

The SuperTruck program is intended to accelerate technologies that will improve freight efficiency. It’s expected some of the technologies utilized will make their way into commercial production.

Volvo  says it focused on advanced aerodynamics for its project, with a wedge-shaped cab featuring a wraparound windshield and downsized cooling package. Gap fairings, skirts and a boattail add to the aerodynamics. The truck replaces standard door-mounted mirrors with cameras, reducing drag by more than 4 per cent.

The SuperTruck 2 vehicle reduced drag by 50 per cent compared to Volvo’s 2009 baseline, and 20 per cent compared to SuperTruck 1. The first iteration was a modified version of the Volvo VNL 670 cab, while SuperTruck 2 features a newly designed cab.

Engineers also slashed weight using a 4×2 configuration and shorter cab paired with an aluminum chassis and lightweight drive axle system with a single composite driveshaft. The total curb weight of the tractor and trailer totalled just 12.2 tonnes.

Volvo worked with a tyre maker to supply smaller and lighter 19.5-inch low-friction tires. A trailer partner supplied a custom lightweight aerodynamic trailer with a shape that matched the tractor to provide a seamless unit.

Other features include a 48-volt micro-hybrid system that acts as a generator and integrated starter to provide cab comforts.

“The project team deliberately focused on driving in real world conditions for testing. Data wasn’t just gathered in a lab or on flat, empty roads with optimal conditions and a light load. Instead, our SuperTruck 2 was tested in real-world scenarios on roads with traffic and elevation changes with a GCVW of 65,000 lb.” Voorhoeve said.

“This is the most aerodynamic and efficient truck Volvo has built to date, and we achieved a freight efficiency that demonstrates the potential for technology innovations to be developed commercially. Our engineers have already begun implementing some of the learnings from SuperTruck 2 into our future truck models. The future of trucks is just around the corner.”