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Fuel Consumption Learning Laboratory

SuperTruck 2 is described as a ‘fuel consumption learning laboratory’, a chance for Volvo in the US to trial different ideas, which may or may not one day make it into production trucks. Our man in Europe, PowerTorque’s European Correspondent, Will Shiers, crosses the Atlantic to assess the experiment.

“What you see here is a peek behind the curtain, a glimpse into how we work with advanced engineering concepts and go through the evaluation process before we actually bring stuff to market,” explains Keith Brandis, Volvo Trucks vice president of partnerships for North America.

These are sentiments echoed by Eric Bond, project manager and principal investigator for Volvo SuperTruck 2, who adds: “It’s a proof of concept one-off demonstrator. Not everything is ready for production, but we have shown it to people [within the Volvo Group] to a point where they can take those next steps and decisions. Some ideas will arrive sooner than later, and some will need more development.”

What did it cost?

“Well you would certainly need a big chequebook to buy it,” laughs Brandis, when I ask him how much SuperTruck 2 cost to develop. “It has so many prototype parts, some hand built, and a few are even 3D printed.

“But in answer to your question, this was a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Energy. It was a 50 per cent cost share and they put $20m (AUS$30m) towards it. So, with our portion of the cost share, it’s essentially a $40m (AUS$60m) project.”

The results

Now for the all-important question. Is this sequel the automotive equivalent of Terminator 2, or Dumb and Dumberer?

“In the end, we were actually able to achieve, not 120 per cent, but a 134 per cent improvement in freight efficiency,” Bond says, answering my question with pride.

“And if you could extrapolate that on all the trucks that are out there running, you can imagine the millions of gallons of fuel that you would save, and the improvement to air quality,” adds Brandis.

SuperTruck 3

Volvo Trucks, together with Paccar and Daimler, is already embarking on SuperTruck 3. This time the DOE is asking OEMs to look at alternative drivelines, which is in line with President Biden’s pledge to have half of all vehicles sold in the US to be zero-tailpipe-emissions by 2030.


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