Pretty much everything in America, at some point (and often multiple points) hitches a ride on a tractor trailer of some sort. It doesn’t matter if it is locally grown organic produce or the latest and greatest Chinese-built computer. By the time it has arrived at your home, it’s probably been on one of these big, smelly beasts.
Improving the fuel efficiency of tractor trailers would be a big deal not just for the environment, but for our wallets as well. So we can all celebrate the latest round of funding from the Department of Energy that is going towards improving the efficiency of Class 8 trucks by 50%.
A class 8 truck has a gross vehicle weight rating of over 33,000 pounds. These are the movers, the shifters, the vehicles that bring us pretty much everything that makes civilized life possible. They average (depending on the vehicle and its payload) between 5 and 8 mpg running diesel fuel. And we’ve all seen them spewing their black smoke out while shifting through their 18 gears. Now if you consider that the average car weights 3500 pounds and gets 27 mpg, these trucks are actually pretty damn efficient… but the gov’ment thinks they can be better.
So to that end they have awarded $187 million to some of the biggest names in the trucking industries. For example Cummins, a maker of diesel engines that often wound up in Dodges, was awarded over $38 million to develop an efficient, clean diesel engine that recycled waste heat and improved the aerodynamics of Peterbilt trucks. Daimler Trucks was given $39 million to improve truck and trailer aerodynamics, make hybrid trucks, and test lower rolling resistance tires.
Trucks weren’t the only beneficiaries of this money though. Ford got $15 million to make a 25% improvement in a 2010 mid-to-large size family sedan. Ford Taurus hybrid anyone? And Robert Bosch was awarded $11 million to, and I quote, “Demonstrate a high compression, turbo-charged engine based on homogeneous charge compression ignition technology (a combustion technology that allows for lower emissions and higher efficiency) to achieve up to 30% fuel economy improvement in a gasoline-fueled light-duty vehicle.” GM, Chrysler, and Navistar were also awarded significant amounts of moolah. Check out the charts below from the DOE to get
Read the full press release from the DOE on page 2.
Source: Department of Energy