Print 80 comment(s) - last by Jedi2155.. on Aug 11 at 11:44 PM

Big rigs need to cut fuel consumption up to 23%

Having high fuel efficiency in a vehicle is a great thing for the driver because they can spend less on fuel. Having higher fuel economy on vehicles across the automotive market will reduce the need to import foreign oil and will help to reduce overall pollution as well. The big downside is that the cost of the tech to improve fuel economy is not cheap and that cost will be passed onto the car buyer.

The Obama administration today outlined its Heavy-Duty National Program [PDF] fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles like semis, concrete trucks, dump trucks, and other heavy work trucks. Rather than targeting a specific mile per gallon rating  for the heavy-duty vehicles – like what has been proposed for passenger vehicles -- Obama is going to target a percentage of fuel savings.

The reason for this significant difference in fuel savings is according to the administration imposing a MPG standard on this sort of vehicle would be very confusing considering that the range of categories is wide and the payload and duties in the segment vary widely.

The administration wants a 9% saving in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for work trucks (fire trucks, garbage trucks, and busses, etc.). Gasoline swilling heavy-duty trucks and vans will need to see a reduction of 10% with diesel versions needing to see a 15% savings. Big rigs have the most stringent cuts at up to 23%.

The regulatory announcement also makes the following claims with regards to recouping the added cost associated with adopting more fuel efficient technologies: 

Using technologies commercially available today, the majority of vehicles will see a payback period of less than one year, while others, especially those with lower annual miles, will experience payback periods of up to two years. For example, an operator of a semi truck can pay for the technology upgrades in under a year, and have net savings up to $73,000 over the truck’s useful life.

The new standards will apply to covered vehicles in the 2014 to 2018 range. The hope is to cut 530 million barrels of oil consumption and $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles with the new standards in place.

The cost to meet the new standards on the varying vehicle types are expected to be in the range of hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars per vehicle.

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RE: todays laugh
By room200 on 8/9/2011 3:44:37 PM , Rating: 1
You might say the same thing for energy efficient appliances, but how many people are still using washers and refrigerators that are 15 years old because "they just don't make them like they used to"?

RE: todays laugh
By DoeBoy on 8/9/2011 3:49:31 PM , Rating: 3
Water and electricity are not nearly as volatile in price as oil is. Oil is something that takes a lot more effort to retrieve than the resources used for power generation. I also think a truck driving tens of thousands of miles a year will return a real value at a much much much quicker pace than a washing machine.

RE: todays laugh
By Hiawa23 on 8/10/2011 10:31:34 AM , Rating: 3
I am skeptical about this. I think it would be great to make big rigs more fuel efficient, but is it realistic? I would rather the admin work on drilling for our own oil here in the States, cause our need for oil is not going to be reduced & with the craziness going on over seas we better find ways to produce more of our own oil, as the price seems to change at the drop of a hat when anyone blinks an eye over in those countries, & the majority of our vehicles are not going to run on electricity especially with the economy in the shape it's in & the middle class falling & struggling, electric vehicles to me will not be the viable option. How do you get gas prices down, that's what I am concerned with, or how do you make em run off of natural gas.

RE: todays laugh
By Natch on 8/10/2011 11:54:13 AM , Rating: 3
No, this is simply what you get when you've got someone without an engineering background, who surrounds themselves with "yes men", who tell him it's the greatest idea in the world to mandate higher fuel efficiency in all vehicles on the road.

Meanwhile, the engineers who design these vehicles are sitting there going, "Really? Gee, why didn't we think of that??", while rolling their eyes, and wondering how they're going to deliver fuel economy as well as performance.

RE: todays laugh
By drycrust3 on 8/10/2011 11:56:36 AM , Rating: 2
I am skeptical about this.

There is little point in demanding more fuel efficiency from vehicles without also demanding an increase in the strength of the road. One cause of inefficiency, especially for heavy vehicles, is the dragging effect of road as it bends under the weight of the vehicle. By building better roads you then reduce that drag and decrease fuel consumption.

RE: todays laugh
By Smartless on 8/9/2011 4:04:37 PM , Rating: 3
I'm a little skeptical on making a large rig more gas efficient. I've seen attempts at making them more aerodynamic but part of the problem is:
1) You can't make a large diesel anymore efficient without sacrificing. (If you're thinking hybrid, dude..really?)
2) Aerodynamically changing any large truck only makes sense for long-haul trucks. Much of the drag is dependent on the trailer which is not something the a trucker can control.
3) Starting a large engine is perhaps the only real change you can make. But really its only one part of an inefficient system. How much savings can you get?

I realize my views here are polarizing but hey I'm here to learn. I know there's biodiesel, there are a few fuel cell trucks out there but really what efficiency can we hope to get besides using smaller trucks like Japan or using trains?

RE: todays laugh
By Gungel on 8/9/2011 4:19:09 PM , Rating: 2
Changing aerodynamics can save 50% in fuel. Check out this video about the industrial designer Luigi Colani:

RE: todays laugh
By Souka on 8/9/2011 7:36:59 PM , Rating: 3
I like how the video the guy says "up to" a lot...seems more vaporware...

Also,potientally save %50 on fuel bill for over a 4x startup cost on the truck..
How much is a windshield on one of those? Oh yeah, you can't get one.

But... I'd really like to see these badboys on the road...that would be sweet! :)

RE: todays laugh
By Souka on 8/9/2011 7:40:40 PM , Rating: 2
sorry, I meant 14x startup cost (a new cab runs about $75k)

RE: todays laugh
By TheEinstein on 8/10/2011 9:34:15 AM , Rating: 1
Dear God the clown opened his mouth again! BAD OBAMA!

Consider slowly who can afford a $200,000 truck. Not small businesses, not drivers. Cost savings my ass.

Every step Obama, and the EPA, has done has made things harder on us. We have to combine an additive to our emissions now and this costs us money and reduces our efficiency.

We have a literal oven on our exhaust to cook loose fuel and carbon into 'something less'. This costs us money and reduces our efficiency.

If the silly Democrats, Liberals, and Environuts would get out of our way we would have already had 10 miles to the Gallon as an average.

Currently 100% of research is dedicated to trying, desperately, to find a way to meet the next level of environmental requirements (consensus is that we cannot create the technology and deploy it fast enough at the moment in the industry).

Fuel efficiency would have been nice, but under these nuts there is no chance except minor increases.

I currently get 6mpg in my truck I drive now. I used to drive trucks with a 7mpg average. I understand what even a 10% increase in ability would mean.

However this new additive stuff puts a huge damper on any desires I have of purchasing a 'new' truck. Kill that and tomorrow I will seek a loan for a truck without the additive stuff.

Oh and a final note KILL THE 2011 RULES THE DOT IS INSTALLING before it kills 300,000 jobs!

RE: todays laugh
By cjohnson2136 on 8/10/2011 10:40:42 AM , Rating: 2
Consider slowly who can afford a $200,000 truck. Not small businesses, not drivers. Cost savings my ass.

You do realize big rigs are expensive NOW. My neighbor is a retired truck driver. His rig cost him 150,000. This rigs are not cheap now. Why would you expect them to be cheap in 2018.

RE: todays laugh
By StanO360 on 8/9/2011 8:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it's cool, but the assumption is that most of the fuel is spent due poor aerodynamics. Why haven't cars seen 50% increases when they are made aerodynamic?

In other words I'm skeptical, is it worth pursuing? Of course, but there are a lot of variable besides aerodynamics.

RE: todays laugh
By Calin on 8/11/2011 2:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
I love how he only talks about the front end. I think the "tail end" is more damaging to aerodynamics than the front end, and that isn't under any kind of driver control

RE: todays laugh
By Jedi2155 on 8/11/2011 11:44:20 PM , Rating: 2
Why couldn't they just put a giant cone at the end for the long haul trucks and remove them at the their trip?

Similar to how the space shuttle has a cone during their 747 flights.

Just make sure its easy to put on and off, then you could talk about lots of fuel savings.

RE: todays laugh
By Etsp on 8/9/2011 4:21:36 PM , Rating: 5
Long Haul Hybrid tractor? Yes. That may very well work. Many(most?) trains are now "hybrids", in that they have a diesel generator that powers electric motors that power the wheels. Scaling the technology down may take a bit of work though. It will certainly be expensive.

Regenerative braking? I'm sure that will be extremely helpful, as long as they don't sacrifice the ability to brake normally as well.

You can easily have the aerodynamic properties of the tractor extend to trailer by the use of fold-able panels. Whether this is cost-effective is another factor entirely.

Another method is to use thermo-electric plates on the exhaust instead of having an alternator. (This has already been done, just not on a wide-scale)

There's also water-injection technology that significantly boosts fuel efficiency (I believe they are having problems with this causing excessive wear and tear on the engines at the moment, but I'm sure these problems are surmountable).

However, I believe the best method to reduce emissions would be to send non-express delivery long-haul shipments via train, and have the tractor-trailers only do the last 50 miles or so. Trains are always going to be more efficient than tractor-trailers.

RE: todays laugh
By Spuke on 8/9/2011 4:49:00 PM , Rating: 5
However, I believe the best method to reduce emissions would be to send non-express delivery long-haul shipments via train, and have the tractor-trailers only do the last 50 miles or so. Trains are always going to be more efficient than tractor-trailers.
Trains are more efficient but good luck trying to get new rails built in states like CA. The environmental impact studies and accompanying lawsuits push costs into the stratosphere.

RE: todays laugh
By Argon18 on 8/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: todays laugh
By Etsp on 8/9/2011 6:27:47 PM , Rating: 5 Yes, these trains are "hybrids".

Why are batteries necessary? Why not supercapacitors? Why attempt to run the vehicle without the Diesel generator running? Why discourage further discussion? I think you are being very close-minded about the possibilities here. Nothing I've said was intended to be a silver bullet, simply part of a larger plan for better efficiency.

The reason manufacturers aren't selling turbodiesels in the US? There isn't enough cost-benefit on our subsidized fuel prices to justify it. It's a $3000 cost difference, and it will save you $2500-$3500 over the life of the vehicle. You won't save much money by buying a turbodiesel. Fuel in Europe and England is much more expensive, and so there is a clear cost-benefit there.

RE: todays laugh
By StanO360 on 8/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: todays laugh
By Etsp on 8/10/2011 11:29:00 AM , Rating: 3
The beauty of our government. Oil is subsidized by the Federal government. Gas is taxed by the state and federal government. Does that make sense to you? Me neither, but that's how it works. Fact is that the U.S. has one of the lowest consumer fuel prices on average than any other country that doesn't export oil.

RE: todays laugh
By ekv on 8/10/2011 10:04:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, these trains are "hybrids".
According to your Wikipedia link they are "series hybrids". Hybrid only in the sense that they use an ICE (as prime mover) and electric motor (for traction).

Why are batteries necessary?
Consider the acceleration profile of a train vs. a truck. Then consider that trying to add batteries to a truck, in order to smooth engine efficiency vs. acceleration needs, would likely add weight to the point of negating desired efficiencies.

Even assuming "hybrid" batteries as espoused on

I don't think the poster you were replying to was attempting to stifle discussion, but rather was decrying increased regulation, unfunded mandates and government intrusion. Get the government out of subsidizing fuels. Let the market decide what to sell.

Diesel-electric locomotives have marvelous technology -- 6000HP yeeha! -- but their weight and cost are optimized for a particular operating regime. I believe it is only a matter of time before trucks and other heavies cross-develop the technology.

RE: todays laugh
By lagomorpha on 8/9/2011 6:09:39 PM , Rating: 2
"Many(most?) trains are now "hybrids", in that they have a diesel generator that powers electric motors that power the wheels."

This is something trains have been doing since at least 1920, but it's mostly because building a transmission capable of reliably handling that kind of torque is a pain (though it has been done). It's not done so much to increase fuel economy. For one thing you don't get regenerative braking, but diesel-electric trains do have something called "dynamic braking" in which the forward motion of the train is slowed by generators in the wheels which feed in to a massive resistor bank above the engine. In order to cool the resistor bank the engine is actually run at full speed and geared directly to some fans, not really the best way to save fuel but does save on brake friction material. The change from 2 strokes to 4 stroke diesel engines should improve fuel economy a bit because of the nature of 2 strokes (limited in how you can adjust valve/port timing).

"The bank of batteries required to provide 2000 ft/lbs of torque would weigh tens of thousands of pounds. "

EMD's H series makes 6300hp at 1000rpm which based on 1hp=1ftlb*rpm/5252 means it's making 33,087.6 ft/lbs of torque. I don't care to guess at the kinds of batteries needed.

RE: todays laugh
By rudy on 8/10/2011 9:16:45 PM , Rating: 2
Why has obama not thought of the obvious solution.

Ship less.

Yes that is right it is only that simple. Mandate that no copy right is valid in the US unless media is sold in a digital copy as well as hard copy. And the digital copy must costs less than the hard copy at retail. This would mean we do not need to ship books, CDs, DVDs, as much and reduce lots of travel. Not shipping something at all is a very easy and realistic solution. Telling people they need to increase efficiency is alot more complicated and many times it is just a lie. For instance people say that now days the EPA MPG rating keeps getting the testing method changed so they can move up the MPG even though the cars are really not getting that much more efficient.

RE: todays laugh
By Calin on 8/11/2011 3:01:29 AM , Rating: 2
Consider the weight of all the books, software, ... that you buy. Now consider the weight of the bottled water, juices, meat, bread, fruits, vegetables and so on (almost all of which are shipped on diesel fuel).
You'd maybe save 0.01% of the transportation costs.

RE: todays laugh
By Calin on 8/11/2011 2:56:47 AM , Rating: 2
Good luck trying to convince companies to send loads with one truck to the train station, trans-ship to train, and wait for the train to arrive to trans-ship to a truck again. It's much easier to put a truck on the road and have guaranteed delivery in a while (freight trains are slow and probably aren't going often enough).

As for hybrid tractors, semis aren't much going in "stop and go" traffic, so I doubt there's any significant savings to be had in their typical workload. As for saving braking energy, a loaded semi convert during braking much more energy than even a hybrid SUV, so you'd need much bigger generators and batteries. Hybrid is best in stop-and-go traffic, and bad in "long haul" scenarios

RE: todays laugh
By kattanna on 8/9/2011 4:13:35 PM , Rating: 3
a trucker can travel hundreds to thousands of miles a week. so if they could be paying 23% less in fuel, which is their single biggest expense, they would be.

problem is load. hauling 60,000 pounds requires a wee bit more power then a slick turbocharged 6 cylinder can provide, and burns fuel accordingly

i read something a while back about walmart moving to using hybrid semis, but they were only expecting 5-10% for long haul loads

RE: todays laugh
By Spuke on 8/9/2011 4:51:39 PM , Rating: 2
problem is load. hauling 60,000 pounds requires a wee bit more power then a slick turbocharged 6 cylinder can provide, and burns fuel accordingly
Er, most of the big rig diesel engines ARE turbocharged 6 cylinders. Ever heard of Cummins?

RE: todays laugh
By lagomorpha on 8/9/2011 5:39:38 PM , Rating: 2
Caterpillar has even made 4 cylinder diesels for semis and Commer made a 3 cylinder for commercial trucks, though it was an opposed piston design (3 cylinders, 6 pistons, 2 stroke).

RE: todays laugh
By Argon18 on 8/9/2011 6:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, it's true, the Cummins 4BT series. 3.9 liter and 4.4 liter FOUR cylinder turbo diesel engines are what powers all the Fedex and UPS box trucks.

RE: todays laugh
By Iaiken on 8/9/2011 4:51:59 PM , Rating: 2
The US military was able to achieve a gain of 20% fuel efficiency on it's HEMTT A3 testbed just by adopting a diesel electric power train.

I would say that it is certainly feasible since it could be combined with advanced aerodynamics to achieve upwards of 65% gains.

I've always wondered why trucks didn't follow trains in their quest to look more and more like bobsleds.

RE: todays laugh
By Jeffk464 on 8/9/2011 11:22:59 PM , Rating: 3
2,500 to 3,000 miles a week
max load on a typical semi is approx 45,000 lbs

RE: todays laugh
By The0ne on 8/9/2011 5:53:42 PM , Rating: 2
That is the one of the main reasons why working places with much older employees still have old devices around. I use to work for a company that made voting systems for city councils across the US. Trust me, we could NOT do anything more advance than a 2 button yes/no, wired, red/green, switch system. To be more advance means more training and anger with the older employees. They do have a point but man, it's hard work...not the voting system...the wiring!

RE: todays laugh
By StanO360 on 8/9/2011 8:24:25 PM , Rating: 3
My 15 yr old refrigerator is about $2 a month worse than new ones. I just replaced a bunch of appliances, my savings a year? Probably about $30-$40 a year, all Energy Star appliances.

We don't make a living with our appliances, truckers costs are a loss against profits.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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