Diesel no image

Published on June 15th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer

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Huge Electric Semi Would Transform Trucking

When you think about the fuel-efficient vehicles we’ll need as we descend the other side of Hubberts Peak you think of an electric car, right? You just don’t think of a hybrid diesel electric Semi Truck, do you?

Well, luckily, somebody is thinking about this fuel-efficient Semi, because we will still need to transport stuff even as the oil age slowly comes to an end.

Kioko Muthui has designed a humungous concept vehicle that would operate as a Series Range extended EV – a bit like the Volt – but instead of gas to run the onboard ICE, using a tiny amount of diesel.

Like the series hybrid Volt, this internal combustion engine is used only to generate electricity to run the truck as an EV, never to power the vehicle.

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Since the ICE does not directly drive the vehicle, it would run continuously at the most efficient speed (RPM) and at the most efficient power output. This electric generator would have a maximum power of 440KW. This power would be channeled to two 220KW electric motors – one at each drive axle.

The transmission itself uses only electric power (i.e. no gearbox, driveshaft, or differential) to enable extremely efficient use of its diesel fuel. The internal combustion engine doesn’t power the vehicle as a backup the way a regular hybrid does if the electricity runs out. It just runs an internal combustion engine to make electricity. It is the electricity the ICE makes that actually powers the vehicle.

So it has all the efficiency of an EV powertrain, and all the security blanket of having an onboard electricity generator.

Its Kenyan designer names it the HST, or the Highly Sophisticated Transporter, and this is no hyperbole: Quite apart from being the most fuel-efficient way to haul goods on the highway, this highly computerized EV would turn the drivers job into a white collar job more akin to piloting a plane than driving a truck.

1. The full 64 foot roof would be all solar – enough space for 6KW of solar power; far more powerful and effective than the single modules that can fit on a small sedan just to power the air conditioning. But on this monster truck, this would be just a booster for the 440KW electric motor.

2. The driver would take an elevator to his cab from the sidewalk side; safer and easier than vertical steps. He’d have a (vehicle specific)  smart card in his pocket for complete access. When he gets to the door, he pushes a button on the door’s surface and it electronically glides back. He then takes a short step onto the elevator. He pushes the ‘UP’ button and the door closes as he is smoothly lifted to the cabin floor. The driver proceeds to the cockpit.  would provide easier and safer cabin entry vis-à-vis typical vertical steps.

3. When the driver is seated, he inserts his personal memory card into its slot. This card features information about his custom settings and preferences. After inserting the card, he pushes the Engine button and the HST comes to life. The engine roars as the CCi display unit turns on and the seat configures itself into the custom position set by the driver.

4. Like an airline pilot, the driver has a display where he configures his environment and the journey’s  routing, navigation parameters; and the cargo etc. A supercomputer would be the nucleus of the HST. Apart from linking the components, functions, and systems of the entire vehicle into a common interface, the supercomputer would simplify the driving experience by assisting or controlling its elements, thereby leaving the driver with a simplified role.

5. The supercomputer would be developed to operate in an advanced state of intelligence that would replace or complement conventional human command. It would have the capacity to sense the driving situation and environment. Thus, the supercomputer would know the best course of action to take in any situation (e.g. accident avoidance, driveline performance management, headlight activation, etc) and would act accordingly.

6. The driver would now assume an administrative/supervisory role, as the vehicle handles the details. This would not only provide for an effortless driving experience, but it would also simplify driver training while encouraging driver recruitment – truck driving could be transformed into a “white-collar” profession.

7. Visibility enhancements also reduce drag: no mirrors, windscreen wipers or design doodads. The driver is centrally positioned in the conical cab (a 180-degree arc) and this provides for a uniform and panoramic view. The low-cut windscreen would be made from a material that would be strong enough to contribute to the structural strength of the cabin, eliminating the need for obtrusive A-pillars. During wet conditions, the water-resistant windscreen and a series of air jets keep the windscreen clear, eliminating the need for distracting wipers. Conventional mirrors would be replaced with small cameras that do not obstruct the view, and that relay the information to the central screen.

8. A well designed live/work space reflects the realities  of road life. At the rear left corner would be a workstation that features a desk, USB ports (for networking a PC and for connecting devices like a Playstation or an iPod), and an activity seat. The activity seat would be similar to the driver’s seat, except it would recline and feature a Maybach-style leg rest. For leisure, the seat would revolve 90-degrees (the seatback is parallel to the rear face of the cabin). With the seat in this position, the driver could recline to relax or view the TV.

9. Save on Motel 6 sleepovers. Above the elevator and workstation would be a bunk that descends from the ceiling at bedtime to increase headroom. Next to the elevator and the workstation would be standup consoles (one on either side of the cabin) for storage including a shoe rack, drawers, clothes closet, and shelving.

10. Last but not least of this sophisticated design; to help avoid the fast food life on the road – the console next to the workstation would store items required for living and would include a fridge, sink, microwave, coffeemaker, and a pantry.

Expect to see this truck driver at the roadside fruit stand.

Sustainable and fuel efficient. Nice.

Via: Treehugger/AKMuthui



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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • Tim Cleland

    “Sustainable and fuel efficient…”

    …and will cost only $20,000,000.00

  • Tim Cleland

    “Sustainable and fuel efficient…”

    …and will cost only $20,000,000.00

  • Blogmeire

    “this highly computerized EV would turn the drivers job into a white collar job more akin to piloting a plane than driving a truck.”

    Tell this to a trucking company and they’ll laugh you outa there. It will never “fly”.

    When will this site get serious and stop printing juvenile nonsense?

  • Blogmeire

    “this highly computerized EV would turn the drivers job into a white collar job more akin to piloting a plane than driving a truck.”

    Tell this to a trucking company and they’ll laugh you outa there. It will never “fly”.

    When will this site get serious and stop printing juvenile nonsense?

  • Chris

    I have to agree, this truck has some good ideas but this description is written like nonsense. A supercomputer? What? Elevator? USB ports?

    It looks like they just stole the Volvo concept and made it far dumber.

  • Chris

    I have to agree, this truck has some good ideas but this description is written like nonsense. A supercomputer? What? Elevator? USB ports?

    It looks like they just stole the Volvo concept and made it far dumber.

  • MB

    Ok I have one question…..Given that its purpose is to transport things, how do you load this? How do you split apart the doubles for outbound loading in existing docks? How do you re-hook the set with the dollies between the trailers without nose or ass dragging on the ground? Perhaps it has curtain sides and pulls in sideways like a breakbulk cargo ship they raise the solar panels and drop stuff in?

    Hmmm well that’s more than one question…

    Hopeful but doubtful….

  • MB

    Ok I have one question…..Given that its purpose is to transport things, how do you load this? How do you split apart the doubles for outbound loading in existing docks? How do you re-hook the set with the dollies between the trailers without nose or ass dragging on the ground? Perhaps it has curtain sides and pulls in sideways like a breakbulk cargo ship they raise the solar panels and drop stuff in?

    Hmmm well that’s more than one question…

    Hopeful but doubtful….

  • http://www.bagpipeworks.co.uk Davy

    All this trucknoncense is a distraction to what is happening elsewhere the price of that unit would make the food its carrying cost more than we could not afford it, its a no brainer even before the drawing board.

    Burning any fuel no matter how efficient, in order of producing another type of energy is purely counter productive, you would be much better off building more railways that carry huge payloads away from the public as much as possible and stock up with produce to last a few weeks instead of a few days like the present system, a slow moving freight train is much cheaper to run that a 100 buzzing Scania’s, getting 8 miles to a gallon each.

    If you think back to the last fuel crisis, well the supermarket shelves were just about empty of the basisc in that time period, long term is much better than short term, the Germans always get it right.

    Ask yourself why the railways were scrapped and then take the amount of trucks it would take to transport the same amount of goods for the price of the fuel on board and you will have your answer, a 100 trucks use more fuel which is taxed and a 100 trucks have a 100 road fund licences to make it all legal and above board, trucks suck, taxes don’t but suck the life out of the economy.

    • http://Web DustyGC

      Right on the mark.
      If you want more efficient transport, work on an electric train and let the engineer wear a white collar if he likes.

      • Ben

        Trains are already diesel electric.

  • http://www.bagpipeworks.co.uk Davy

    All this trucknoncense is a distraction to what is happening elsewhere the price of that unit would make the food its carrying cost more than we could not afford it, its a no brainer even before the drawing board.

    Burning any fuel no matter how efficient, in order of producing another type of energy is purely counter productive, you would be much better off building more railways that carry huge payloads away from the public as much as possible and stock up with produce to last a few weeks instead of a few days like the present system, a slow moving freight train is much cheaper to run that a 100 buzzing Scania’s, getting 8 miles to a gallon each.

    If you think back to the last fuel crisis, well the supermarket shelves were just about empty of the basisc in that time period, long term is much better than short term, the Germans always get it right.

    Ask yourself why the railways were scrapped and then take the amount of trucks it would take to transport the same amount of goods for the price of the fuel on board and you will have your answer, a 100 trucks use more fuel which is taxed and a 100 trucks have a 100 road fund licences to make it all legal and above board, trucks suck, taxes don’t but suck the life out of the economy.

  • http://www.bagpipeworks.co.uk Davy

    Done a bit of digging around and have managed to find this again, divulge.

    ___________________________________________________

    Last year, major freight railroads in the United States moved a ton of freight an average of 436 miles on each gallon of fuel.

    That represents a 3.1 percent improvement over 2006 and an 85.5 percent improvement since 1980, reports The Association of American Railroads.

    “That’s the equivalent of moving a ton of freight all the way from Baltimore to Boston on just a single gallon of diesel fuel,” said AAR President Ed Hamberger. He noted that thanks to railroads’ fuel efficiency gains, since 1980 freight railroads have reduced fuel consumption by 48 billion gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by 538 million tons.

    Hamberger pointed out that railroads are three or more times more fuel efficient than trucks, adding: “In fact, if just 10 percent of the

    freight currently moving by truck went instead by rail, the nation could save 1 billion gallons of fuel per year.”

    Who says the yanks are all wasters, but then there are the highways.

    • Peter

      The original purpose of the truck as I understand it, was to take the products from the trains the the businesses. They were for inner city use not cross country.

  • http://www.bagpipeworks.co.uk Davy

    Done a bit of digging around and have managed to find this again, divulge.

    ___________________________________________________

    Last year, major freight railroads in the United States moved a ton of freight an average of 436 miles on each gallon of fuel.

    That represents a 3.1 percent improvement over 2006 and an 85.5 percent improvement since 1980, reports The Association of American Railroads.

    “That’s the equivalent of moving a ton of freight all the way from Baltimore to Boston on just a single gallon of diesel fuel,” said AAR President Ed Hamberger. He noted that thanks to railroads’ fuel efficiency gains, since 1980 freight railroads have reduced fuel consumption by 48 billion gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by 538 million tons.

    Hamberger pointed out that railroads are three or more times more fuel efficient than trucks, adding: “In fact, if just 10 percent of the

    freight currently moving by truck went instead by rail, the nation could save 1 billion gallons of fuel per year.”

    Who says the yanks are all wasters, but then there are the highways.

  • Chris

    This is a great concept vehicle. It’s a good thing to see industrial designers applying their design skills to real problems, not just fancier and fancier iGadgets

  • Chris

    This is a great concept vehicle. It’s a good thing to see industrial designers applying their design skills to real problems, not just fancier and fancier iGadgets

  • Bob

    Agree we need to move more freight by rail, but there will always be a need for trucking, if not just from the rail yard to the point-of-use. However, we all can agree that U.S. railroad crossing safety definitely needs to be improved and will require significant $$’s. I believe with no changes you’d see a geometric or exponential rise in crossing accidents/injuries/fatalities with each % rise in rail freight.

  • Bob

    Agree we need to move more freight by rail, but there will always be a need for trucking, if not just from the rail yard to the point-of-use. However, we all can agree that U.S. railroad crossing safety definitely needs to be improved and will require significant $$’s. I believe with no changes you’d see a geometric or exponential rise in crossing accidents/injuries/fatalities with each % rise in rail freight.

  • http://reitzdigitalimaging.com Larry

    As a former truck driver; I always consider safety first. I’m thinking that I am cussing out my computer when I lose power and have to retype something.

    What happens when your driving down the road with a computer in charge and something like a power surge or power loss happens?

    There doesn’t seem to be any manual controls, anf if there are you have to lean way forward to get to them. How do you stop it if someone approaches and you don’t want to hit them?

    Sorry Sir/Ma’am my computer ran over your kid; it wasn’t me!

    Interesting design, but this is a bad idea. I wouldn’t get in it. I can’t say drive it or operate it, because the driver isn’t really necessary.

  • http://reitzdigitalimaging.com Larry

    As a former truck driver; I always consider safety first. I’m thinking that I am cussing out my computer when I lose power and have to retype something.

    What happens when your driving down the road with a computer in charge and something like a power surge or power loss happens?

    There doesn’t seem to be any manual controls, anf if there are you have to lean way forward to get to them. How do you stop it if someone approaches and you don’t want to hit them?

    Sorry Sir/Ma’am my computer ran over your kid; it wasn’t me!

    Interesting design, but this is a bad idea. I wouldn’t get in it. I can’t say drive it or operate it, because the driver isn’t really necessary.

  • sac

    This is fluff reporting. I’m curious about the powertrain. Diesel electric can be more efficient under the right circumstances, but not always. Between generators, motors, converters, and batteries, I’d estimate the powertrain losses to be on the order of 25% before any power got to the wheels. Now this may still be better than direct drive, but not necessarily. I would lose all the electronic door opener and elevators and computer controls as this is just things that will break and need to be fixed. They’ll also add a ton of cost to something that will already come at probably a 50% premium, even when stripped down to the bare essentials. I don’t see the solar panels as making much sense as trucks are often carrying containers.

    There are some interesting ideas here but none are explored with any real journalistic sense. As described this is just some guy’s wet dream, not a potential product.

  • sac

    This is fluff reporting. I’m curious about the powertrain. Diesel electric can be more efficient under the right circumstances, but not always. Between generators, motors, converters, and batteries, I’d estimate the powertrain losses to be on the order of 25% before any power got to the wheels. Now this may still be better than direct drive, but not necessarily. I would lose all the electronic door opener and elevators and computer controls as this is just things that will break and need to be fixed. They’ll also add a ton of cost to something that will already come at probably a 50% premium, even when stripped down to the bare essentials. I don’t see the solar panels as making much sense as trucks are often carrying containers.

    There are some interesting ideas here but none are explored with any real journalistic sense. As described this is just some guy’s wet dream, not a potential product.

  • http://www.bagpipeworks.co.uk Davy

    Most of the rail freight could be moved through the night when everybody is in their beds and at very slow speeds to save fuel costs, the food outlets could be built nearer the points of distribution, the smaller towns should also be catered for, everybody should be counted for, instead of cutting the local economies throats and undercutting them, but we live in a big shop eat shop society, and I’m wandering away from the thread.

    We used to have the best rail network in the world and now we have one of the worst, we all know why the tracks were ripped up so we won’t go into that one.

    Rail is by far the best way to transport goods, one vehicle one driver en-route.

    What Larry said about the computer thing brought back memories of Windows 98 SE, then who do we blame, Mr Gates for a crash, pun intended.

    In the news last night they mentioned bringing back some of the railways, so the powers that be are already thinking about it, I;m sure the powers that be are watching what we are all saying, and borrowing a few of our ideas and taking note of the public reaction when ever they do something stupid.

    MP’s are really good at reacting after the fact, but not very good at long sightedness, this ones for the transport minister then, bring back the train and save our roads that he is neglecting, latest cost figures for patching up our roads only, today a snip at 15 billion, how many railway tracks could you lay for that.

    Tracks in trucks out for the every day heavy gear.

    • http://Web James

      Plus, the smaller communities would be brought back to life since most of these smaller towns were once train stop offs. Also, the railroads were a big employer at one time.

  • http://www.bagpipeworks.co.uk Davy

    Most of the rail freight could be moved through the night when everybody is in their beds and at very slow speeds to save fuel costs, the food outlets could be built nearer the points of distribution, the smaller towns should also be catered for, everybody should be counted for, instead of cutting the local economies throats and undercutting them, but we live in a big shop eat shop society, and I’m wandering away from the thread.

    We used to have the best rail network in the world and now we have one of the worst, we all know why the tracks were ripped up so we won’t go into that one.

    Rail is by far the best way to transport goods, one vehicle one driver en-route.

    What Larry said about the computer thing brought back memories of Windows 98 SE, then who do we blame, Mr Gates for a crash, pun intended.

    In the news last night they mentioned bringing back some of the railways, so the powers that be are already thinking about it, I;m sure the powers that be are watching what we are all saying, and borrowing a few of our ideas and taking note of the public reaction when ever they do something stupid.

    MP’s are really good at reacting after the fact, but not very good at long sightedness, this ones for the transport minister then, bring back the train and save our roads that he is neglecting, latest cost figures for patching up our roads only, today a snip at 15 billion, how many railway tracks could you lay for that.

    Tracks in trucks out for the every day heavy gear.

  • Gary L. Sooter

    I concur that the design is far to unsubstantiated by current standards, but I do have a problem with the touted railroads statistic of 436 miles driven on 1 gallon of diesel how is that computed? and if it is accurate than why can’t that type of mileage translate into either trucks or cars? There is nothing wrong with trucks using the diesel electric technology that moves trains. Trucks will always be needed no matter how well railroads are designed. Even in the heyday of the railroads there were still the teamsters need to move stuff from rail-yards to the waiting public.

    Let’s continue to strive to become a more energy efficient society, remember that it is through design concepts that the everyday things we use came into being.

  • Gary L. Sooter

    I concur that the design is far to unsubstantiated by current standards, but I do have a problem with the touted railroads statistic of 436 miles driven on 1 gallon of diesel how is that computed? and if it is accurate than why can’t that type of mileage translate into either trucks or cars? There is nothing wrong with trucks using the diesel electric technology that moves trains. Trucks will always be needed no matter how well railroads are designed. Even in the heyday of the railroads there were still the teamsters need to move stuff from rail-yards to the waiting public.

    Let’s continue to strive to become a more energy efficient society, remember that it is through design concepts that the everyday things we use came into being.

  • Justwatching

    Idiots!!!!

    Can you say “diesel electric trains”?

    They have been around for 60 years.

    The European countries are using full electric trains.

    Thanks to G.M. we are way behind!!

    Long haul with electric trains and last mile with trucks.

    Keep it simple son. (KISS)!!

    • http://Web DustyGC

      Exactly.

    • Severson

      the problem with the all electric system is that there is so mutch power lost through electrical radiation that it is not more efficient, and cerantly not cleaner . think about where the electricity comes form

  • Justwatching

    Idiots!!!!

    Can you say “diesel electric trains”?

    They have been around for 60 years.

    The European countries are using full electric trains.

    Thanks to G.M. we are way behind!!

    Long haul with electric trains and last mile with trucks.

    Keep it simple son. (KISS)!!

  • http://akmuthui.synthasite.com/ Kioko Muthui

    Hi,

    I’m the author of the HST and I would like to set something straight. The text used in this post does not correspond to the concept. The appropriate text can be found here:

    http://akmuthui.synthasite.com/concepts_thehst2.php

    Thereafter, I would be more than happy to address any concerns regarding the HST, which is more than “just some guy’s wet dream”.

  • http://akmuthui.synthasite.com/ Kioko Muthui

    Hi,

    I’m the author of the HST and I would like to set something straight. The text used in this post does not correspond to the concept. The appropriate text can be found here:

    http://akmuthui.synthasite.com/concepts_thehst2.php

    Thereafter, I would be more than happy to address any concerns regarding the HST, which is more than “just some guy’s wet dream”.

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    Hi – sorry if the text does not correspond – I thought I got the gist of it – but it was a lot to digest.

    About the negativity – I sympathise with you. It is funny how negative some people get about design concepts; its as if new products must spring fully formed into beoing, with no school of hard knocks trial and error designing beforehand.

    But actually, first, before anything can change you gotta have a dream. You had a great idea.

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    Hi – sorry if the text does not correspond – I thought I got the gist of it – but it was a lot to digest.

    About the negativity – I sympathise with you. It is funny how negative some people get about design concepts; its as if new products must spring fully formed into beoing, with no school of hard knocks trial and error designing beforehand.

    But actually, first, before anything can change you gotta have a dream. You had a great idea.

  • http://akmuthui.synthasite.com/ Kioko Muthui

    Hi Susan, thanks for the comment…

  • http://akmuthui.synthasite.com/ Kioko Muthui

    Hi Susan, thanks for the comment…

  • david

    sounds like a great truck for swift or jb hunt. sounds like a horrible truck for pulling os/ow loads. i will stick with my pete,600 horse cat and a set of sticks. as they say born in the hills raised in a cave truckin and fuckin is what i crave!

  • david

    sounds like a great truck for swift or jb hunt. sounds like a horrible truck for pulling os/ow loads. i will stick with my pete,600 horse cat and a set of sticks. as they say born in the hills raised in a cave truckin and fuckin is what i crave!

  • Al Roderick

    Wow, the guy above me is certainly evolved.

    This is certainly a neat concept, but I agree that the solar roof is contrary to what is largely seen as the real future of trucking, containerized freight. If the panel is mounted on a roof that can retract to the side for a top-lift crane, then it works better. Or if it can drop its containers onto the pavement by itself.

    Peterbilt already has a decent parallel hybrid design it’s been rolling out slowly for a few years, and aerodynamic efficiency improvements are coming bit by bit. I think the era of the sleeper fleet is pretty well over. In the future all US trucking will be one-day hops from rail yards to customers, or from sea/river ports to the rail yards. Maybe a few out-of-the-way places will still rely on over the road service, but hopefully we can get an expanded and electrified freight rail system along with our smart grid and high-speed passenger system with all this infrastructure spending.

  • Al Roderick

    Wow, the guy above me is certainly evolved.

    This is certainly a neat concept, but I agree that the solar roof is contrary to what is largely seen as the real future of trucking, containerized freight. If the panel is mounted on a roof that can retract to the side for a top-lift crane, then it works better. Or if it can drop its containers onto the pavement by itself.

    Peterbilt already has a decent parallel hybrid design it’s been rolling out slowly for a few years, and aerodynamic efficiency improvements are coming bit by bit. I think the era of the sleeper fleet is pretty well over. In the future all US trucking will be one-day hops from rail yards to customers, or from sea/river ports to the rail yards. Maybe a few out-of-the-way places will still rely on over the road service, but hopefully we can get an expanded and electrified freight rail system along with our smart grid and high-speed passenger system with all this infrastructure spending.

  • Brian

    Kioko, great concept and write-up. I currently operate a very small fleet transporting fuel of various types. I’m constantly looking for a way to improve fuel economy, minimize expenses, driver training, etc.

    I’ve read all the comments to date, and I don’t agree with most of them. It seems the majority of the comments concerning how the entire distribution system in the US works are off the mark. People need to remember that the railroads and trucks got in the position they’re in because of YOU and ME requiring our products RIGHT NOW.

    So many responders seem to have this idea that the railroad/truck debate in the US is won hands down by the railroads. But as Gary L. Sooter said in his comment, I wonder the same thing about the railroad’s claim of moving a ton of freight 400+ miles on a gallon of fuel. Unless they provide the information that was used in their calculation, and more importantly, what the formula is, I’ll have to say that their claim is bologna. In addition, I’d like to see ANY railroad provide front door service to as many different places as a truck can. Sure the railroad is more efficient at hauling freight over extremely long distances. Until the railroad can solve the problem of freight taking literally weeks to move from point A to point B, there is no way the over-the-road, regional, and local trucks are going to go away. A truck can move the same amount of freight the same distance in a matter of hours or days compared to the weeks it takes the railroad to do it.

    As far as your concept is concerned, I like it. I’ll jump on board in a heartbeat! I imagine if something that big can be at least as maneuverable as the current big rigs are, there’s no reason the unit can’t be used in the fuel business as well.

    Bring it on!

  • Brian

    Kioko, great concept and write-up. I currently operate a very small fleet transporting fuel of various types. I’m constantly looking for a way to improve fuel economy, minimize expenses, driver training, etc.

    I’ve read all the comments to date, and I don’t agree with most of them. It seems the majority of the comments concerning how the entire distribution system in the US works are off the mark. People need to remember that the railroads and trucks got in the position they’re in because of YOU and ME requiring our products RIGHT NOW.

    So many responders seem to have this idea that the railroad/truck debate in the US is won hands down by the railroads. But as Gary L. Sooter said in his comment, I wonder the same thing about the railroad’s claim of moving a ton of freight 400+ miles on a gallon of fuel. Unless they provide the information that was used in their calculation, and more importantly, what the formula is, I’ll have to say that their claim is bologna. In addition, I’d like to see ANY railroad provide front door service to as many different places as a truck can. Sure the railroad is more efficient at hauling freight over extremely long distances. Until the railroad can solve the problem of freight taking literally weeks to move from point A to point B, there is no way the over-the-road, regional, and local trucks are going to go away. A truck can move the same amount of freight the same distance in a matter of hours or days compared to the weeks it takes the railroad to do it.

    As far as your concept is concerned, I like it. I’ll jump on board in a heartbeat! I imagine if something that big can be at least as maneuverable as the current big rigs are, there’s no reason the unit can’t be used in the fuel business as well.

    Bring it on!

  • http://Web James

    Diesel fuel comes from crude oil. So, what will you use for fuel when diesel isn’t available? Why not just put all the cargo on rails which are many times more efficient than a bunch of trucks.

  • http://Web s palmore

    440 KW??? geeezus thats 600 HP!! what the heck are they hauling at 100 MPH?? current tech. 225 at wheel HP is a 500 plus under the hood. axel mounted motors reduces HP requirment by 30 to 50% so in reality 2, 80 KW motors would be great.

  • Mantion

    I am confused. This is a joke right? Why are you all taking it seriously. This is a tongue and cheek article. There are massive trucks right now that have a diesel generator and an electric drive train. it would be possible to apply this technology to a semi, but there is no benefit. It would increase the weight, cost and complexity dramatically and have no improvement in efficiency for long hauls. Yes in stop and go traffic with changing gears and idling there would be a improvement. Its very simple really. Trucks have many gears, and at highway speed, you typically run the engine at optimal RPM. And batteries and an Large Generator, electric drive train and batteries would be heavier then the traditional transmission. For long haul you would quickly deplete any reserve electricity in the battery. Pushing these non aerodynamic beasts at High way speed takes a lot of energy. Since you would lose a small amount of energy in electricity generation, and motors, you would actually need slightly larger, heavier and more powerful diesel motor. So there it is.. You will burn more diesel at high way speed because of the increased weight, and volume (less aerodynamic). You also use more fuel just converting kinetic energy to electric and then back.

    SO it should be clear there is nothing to gain on long hauls at high way speeds. You might have a small increase in efficiency in stop and go traffic, but that is not a significant percentage of diesel usage.

    if you want to decrease fuel consumption simply make a aerodynamic cab and trailer tail. model it after a bullet train, why is this so complicated. the work is done just copy it….

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  • Ricky

    Let them drive n they shale break it. let them load n they shale break it.How are they gonna keep the average driver/dock worker from messing the things up i like the EV go green for sure but people are stupid when it comes to respecting property i can see some weird road calls coming out to repair panels.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/joborras/ Jo Borras

      Huh?

  • http://imagegoku.com James Costello

    Horrible concept really. Semis already operate pretty damn near their most efficient RPM range thanks to 8, 10, and 12 speed transmissions they have. Very little efficiency could be gained from regen-braking, because trucks typically carry things for long distances mostly across highways, where stop-and-go traffic is minimal.

    Solar panels, dual drivetrains, and battery banks would increase the vehicle’s already dangerous weight, and would reduce by far, the vehicle’s cargo carrying capacity. Consider that a large part of a truck’s efficiency is in its ability to carry goods in fewer (bulk) trips, and the hybrid semi idea falls flat on its face.

    Hybrid drives make a great deal of sense for many applications once we can produce batteries/supercapacitors with minimal environmental impact, minimal cost, and maximal performance/weight ratio; Until that time comes, hybrid-driven passenger cars represent, at best, a break-even point to standard ICE cars, and hybrid semis are a recipe for disappointment.

    That being said, I look forward to the day when power storage efficacy and environmental production costs permit widespread use of fully electric vehicles. Combined with cleanly generated power, EVs have fantastic potential in reducing travel related pollution and independence from our ever-decreasing supply of oil.

  • Dresen

    This is cute, but why is it written like a Popular Science article from the 1930’s?

  • http://milano.bbakeca.com/ BBakeca

    Great concept! I like it very much!

  • Brother John

    …even as the oil age slowly comes to an end.”

    Laughable nonsense.

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