Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has reported that it has not only achieved the objectives of the SuperTruck project it fielded along with various partners, but it has done so a year ahead of schedule.

DTNA said it worked with project partners, including its Detroit subsidiary and other suppliers as well as national labs and universities, to exceed the SuperTruck program’s goals by designing a Class 8 truck that demonstrated an over 50% improvement in overall freight efficiency vs. a 2007 baseline tractor-trailer combination.

The OEM pointed out that its SuperTruck also achieved more than the 50% gain in brake thermal efficiency required of the engine in each concept vehicle.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), the SuperTruck program is an expansive five-year R&D initiative focused on improving the freight efficiency and reducing the fuel consumption as well as the greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions of Class 8 trucks.

Including DTNA, four major truck OEMs were awarded multi-million dollar grants by the DOE to participate in the program.

DTNA, which began work on the program in 2010, noted that the $40-million SuperTruck grant it received was the largest of four granted to truck manufacturers by DOE to develop innovative technologies for more efficient, more environmentally friendly trucks.

The OEM said that “plans to complete and test a final demonstration vehicle with additional fuel and weight savings measures” are slated for late this year.

“We’re pleased that we achieved our SuperTruck goals ahead of schedule, however our work isn’t done,” said Derek Rotz, DTNA’s principal investigator for SuperTruck.

“In our final year of the SuperTruck program, we will continue to make enhancements that will not only improve efficiency, but will steer the course for our industry,” he added.

According to Rotz, DTNA conducted a series of fuel efficiency, HVAC and thermal tests on the SuperTruck prototype vehicle.

These included two different on-highway routes in Oregon and Texas, which measured a 52% and a 61% fuel-economy improvement, respectively. The combined tractor-trailer weighed 1500 lbs less than the baseline vehicle.

DTNA noted that many of the concepts deployed on the SuperTruck-- such as an integrated powertrain, 6x2 optimization, advanced technologies and enhanced aerodynamics-- have already been implemented by the OEM on its Freightliner Cascadia Evolution tractor and within its the new integrated DetroitPowertrain.

The OEM pointed out, too, that such new features as a downsized engine coupled with a hybrid electric powertrain and a waste-heat recovery system further contributed to the success of the SuperTruck project.

“The SuperTruck program has served as a great opportunity to deepen our research and development efforts, with the ultimate benefit being to our industry and our customers,” said Dr. Maik Ziegler, DTNA’s director of advanced engineering.

“This collaborative effort underscores our commitment to developing forward-thinking solutions that help our customers realize the lowest real cost of ownership,” he added.

The SuperTruck program is administered by DOE under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.