In 2021 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) declared its intent to launch the third iteration of its SuperTruck initiative to fund decarbonization of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in various sectors. The funding worth over $100M will be available to introduce electric, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in long-haul, tow, off-road and pickup and delivery trucks over the next four years. That is an action, which many American companies, like https://www.hmdtrucking.com/, were waiting for years.
The project will support efficiency improvement and cutting carbon emissions among motor vehicles together with the expansion of electric vehicle infrastructure, altogether to “reach the goal of net-zero carbon economy by 2050” as declares Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
During the meeting with trucking industry players Granholm said SuperTruck 3 will “push the envelope even further through the electrification of the vehicle, and hydrogen and fuel cells.” To reimagine vehicle transportation across the US, the DOE’s project will attract manufacturers and industry partners to lower carbon emissions and to increase vehicles efficiency and affordability.
The first SuperTruck initiative was launched by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) in 2009 with the objective to improve heavy-duty truck freight efficiency by 50%. The SuperTruck 2 project started in 2015 and was aimed to double fuel efficiency for 18-wheeler Class 8 trucks. The initiatives attracted truck manufacturers who take more than 99% of the U.S. truck market, and both were deemed a success by the DOE. Today the third iteration of this initiative is motivating OEMs to focus on developing clean energy solutions rather than on improving the diesel-based technology.
Follow the Money
For SuperTruck 3, the DOE will allocate $127M (more than the initial announcement of $100M) to five heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to develop electrified medium- and heavy-duty trucks and transportation system concepts to increase efficiency and cut emissions to zero. These projects will run over five years, and participants will have to get appropriation from the Congress, to have federal funding.
Participants and Actions
Daimler ($25.79M awarded) will build and show two Class 8 fuel cell trucks able to run 600 miles and work 25,000 hours with range and load performance equivalent to diesel trucks.
Ford ($24.95M awarded) will build and show five hydrogen fuel cell electric Class 6 trucks to reach the expenses, load, towing performance and refueling times that are similar to conventional petrol trucks.
General Motors ($26.06M awarded) will build and showcase four hydrogen fuel cell and four electric battery Class 4-6 trucks. The project will also cover clean hydrogen generation via electrolysis and clean power for fast charging.
Paccar (Kenworth and Peterbilt) ($32.97M awarded) is going to build and show eighteen Class-8 electric battery and fuel cell vehicles with advanced batteries, together with a 1MW charging station.
Volvo Group North America, LLC ($18.07M awarded) will develop a Class 8 electric battery tractor trailer with electric brakes, advanced aerodynamics, tires optimized for electric vehicles, and automation and route planning features which altogether enable a 400 miles range. A 1MW charging station will be developed and showcased, too.
Daimler took part in the first two SuperTruck stages. Now for SuperTruck 3, it is going to show the emissions reduction and fuel efficiency features of its fuel cell truck for both long-haul and regional vocations. In the third iteration of the program, Daimler says it will develop various features which allow fuel cell and electric trucks to outperform long-distance sleeper trucks range, efficiency and performance while the payload is to remain unimpaired.
Volvo is another recurring participant of the SuperTruck initiative. The company says it’s offer for SuperTruck 3 was aimed to accomplish several DOE targets and will make significant progress in zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).
PACCAR has also participated in the prior SuperTruck projects and as part of SuperTruck 3 the company will further improve its Class 8 Kenworth and Peterbilt electric battery and fuel cell trucks. Schneider Electric announced its partnership with PACCAR and it will provide microgrid resiliency and electric vehicle infrastructure as part of the program.
Timing and Expectations
The SuperTruck 3 Program is going to last four years with a staged scheme which includes simulation and evaluation of ideas, concept selection and elaboration, pilot vehicle building, testing and analysis against the project objectives.
The innovative concepts developed within the framework of SuperTruck 3 project are expected to result in higher efficiency trucks and freight systems that considerably reduce CO2 emissions and satisfy future emission standards. DOE is hunting performance improvements on vehicle level for Class 7-8 regional and long-haul trucks and Class 4-6 vocational trucks and as for the system level it expects freight efficiency improvements. Projects will focus on field operation in real conditions with fuel economy in drive cycle including selected hub-to-hub routes and last mile delivery. Models will be developed to predict performance and help to achieve better freight efficiency and lowest carbon emissions.
Conclusions by Policy Makers
According to the DOE and Biden Administration, climate change is America’s worst enemy in the upcoming decades and they have waged a war on it. Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14008 sets climate change as a threat to national security and SuperTruck 3 initiative is in line with this helping to create cleaner vehicles and infrastructure. “We cannot delay in waging a full-out war on the climate crisis,” Granholm said.