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Not Like Any Kenworth You’ve Seen Before

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Here is the latest truck to be unveiled by the Paccar truck development team in the US and as we can plainly see it is not like any Kenworth you’ve seen before. This is the SuperTruck 2, which was developed over a six year period as part of a collaboration with the US Government’s Department of Energy’s (DOE) SuperTruck program.

Kenworth showcased its SuperTruck 2 demonstrator vehicle at the ACT (Advanced Clean Transportation) Expo in Las Vegas, recently.

“The goal was a 100 per cent freight efficiency improvement over our 2009 Kenworth T660. We surpassed the performance of that model to improve efficiency by up to 136 per cent,” said Jim Walenczak, General Manager of Kenworth and PACCAR vice president. “This was realised through a combination of improving fuel efficiency up to 12.8 mpg (5.44 km/l) while reducing our combination weight by more than 7,000lb (3,181kg).

“SuperTruck 2 provided us with the opportunity to investigate new technologies at an early stage. We learned what worked and what didn’t. As a result, we are able to commercialise new technologies much quicker than we would have otherwise.”

The look of the Kenworth catches most of the attention, but the powertrain and driver amenities are just as impressive. 

“We started with an ideal aerodynamic shape when we started the design of SuperTruck 2,” said Joe Adams, Kenworth’s Chief Engineer. “At the start of the project, we asked ourselves, ‘What does the next generation vehicle for long haul transportation look like?’ 

“What we produced pushes the limits in reducing aerodynamic drag while it also incorporates a new powertrain. The result was a systematic approach to developing a futuristic looking, yet relevant vehicle with technologies that have the potential to be refined and commercialised.”

This design work was based on improving the efficiency with a diesel engine, but the design and aerodynamics will also be effective on alternative power vehicles in the drive towards zero carbon trucking.

This SuperTruck 2 utilises a PACCAR MX-11 engine, rated at 440 hp, which is driven through a PACCAR TX-12 AMT. In addition, the truck features a 48-volt electric generator, creating a ‘mild’ hybrid system using next lithium-ion batteries. The batteries are re-charged through regenerative braking. This allows SuperTruck 2 to operate electric fans, electric steering, and power for electric coolant and HVAC pumps, which were previously mechanically driven. The engine fan alone can draw up to 80hp. 

SuperTruck 2 features a ‘centre driver’ cab, along with a new sleeper compartment. It’s a look that resembles a bullet train. 

“We wanted to push this beyond just a demonstrator truck,” said Jonathan Duncan, Kenworth’s Design Director. “We wanted to show something dynamic and what the future of Kenworth might look like. Our headlamps take up the entire front fender of the truck.”

A reverse- splayed chassis allowed the engineering team to narrow the front of the truck and fully enclose the wheels within the bodywork. The entire bonnet and the chassis fairings are mounted directly to the cab, and they move with the entire cab as one unit. 

A variable suspension system was developed to customise ride height and optimise aerodynamics, meaning SuperTruck 2 can be raised over rough roads to avoid obstacles, then brought back down when running over smoother highways. The streamlining means a 48 per cent reduction in drag as compared to Kenworth’s baseline vehicle. 


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