Green Trucking Movement Making Progress

March 11, 2014

Trucks Going Green

With an eye toward the future, the Green Truck Summit was recently held in Indianapolis. Patrick Davis, director of the Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office, updated the group on DOE's SuperTruck program. Davis said all four SuperTruck projects, which challenge manufacturers to increase Class 8 truck efficiency by 50%, are on track, as reported on Truck News.

Presidential Commendation

The first project completed, the Peterbilt/Cummins project earned a presidential commendation for achieving 10.7 mpg with a Class 8 tractor trailer, a significant 4 mpg improvement over standard Class 8s which average 6.5 mpg. Additional trials by Daimler, Volvo and Navistar are still underway.

Battery Tech Improvements

In addition to new technologies and truck designs being developed by the SuperTruck projects, Davis said recent advancements in battery technology are benefitting the green truck industry. A considerable price drop (50% over 5 years) is encouraging acceptance and Davis said he expects battery prices to drop another $100-$150 in the near future; however, there's still a long way to go before battery prices reach the DOE goal of $125 per kWh.

Increasing National Security

Davis called the green truck movement "an issue of economic security, environmental stewardship as well as national security." He noted that two-thirds of the nation's total petroleum use goes for transportation. Roadway vehicles account for the bulk of that consumption (80%) with heavy-duty trucks lapping up nearly a fourth of the petroleum used by vehicles.

Success Stories

While recognizing that infrastructure must keep pace if the green truck movement is to be successful, Davis noted that there are already 25 heavy-duty tractor-trailer models on the market that use alternative fuels. Green trucks are being adopted by a growing number of businesses, including:

  • Natural gas fuels more than half of all new refuse trucks.
  • UPS is investing $70 million to construct 50 liquid natural gas fueling stations to support a new fleet of 1,000 LNG tractors.
  • By 2018 AT&T will have 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles on the road.

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