Kenworth unveils SuperTruck 2 at ACT Expo

Kenworth Supertruck 2 Kenworth Supertruck 2 (Photo: Kenworth)

Kenworth has presented its SuperTruck 2 demonstrator at ACT Expo 2024 in Las Vegas. The prototype was developed over a six-year period of collaboration between PACCAR (Kenworth’s parent company) and the Department of Energy’s SuperTruck program, intended to deliver improved freight efficiency using diesel power.

“The goal was a 100% freight efficiency improvement over our 2009 Kenworth T660, which at the time was the most fuel efficient truck in the industry. We surpassed the performance of that model to improve efficiency by up to 136%,” said Jim Walenczak, GM of Kenworth and PACCAR vice president.

“This was realized through a combination of improving fuel efficiency up to 12.8 mpg, while reducing our combination weight by more than 7,000 lb (3,175 kg). The result was the ability to haul more payload with an ultra fuel-efficient tractor-trailer combination.”

SuperTruck 2 has a modern exterior design, but the powertrain and driver amenities have undergone equivalent changes. “We started with an ideal aerodynamic shape… then asked ourselves, ‘what does the next-generation vehicle for long-haul transportation look like?’” said Joe Adams, Kenworth’s chief designer. “What we produced pushes the limits in reducing aerodynamic drag… to develop a futuristic looking, yet relevant vehicle with technologies that have the potential to be refined and commercialized.”

Engine and aerodynamic upgrade Engine and aerodynamic upgrades deliver 136% efficiency improvements over benchmark vehicle (Photo: Kenworth)

The Kenworth SuperTruck 2 uses a PACCAR MX-11 engine. Driven via a PACCAR TX-12 auto transmission, the engine develops 440 hp. The powertrain further features a 48 V electric generator, creating a mild hybrid system using li-ion batteries. Recharged using regenerative braking, the system can power electric fans and steering, cooling systems, HVAC pumps and an exhaust heater for emissions aftertreatment. The engine fan alone can drain up to 80 hp. The hybrid system also powers the driver’s overnight in-cab hotelling.

With the 48 V system powering auxiliaries, the MX-11 engine achieved a 55.7% energy efficiency. According to PACCAR’s Maarten Meijer, senior engineering manager for Advanced Technology, the system can deliver a 10% overall fuel efficiency improvement.

The SuperTruck 2 has a ‘center driver’ cab and a new sleeper compartment. The aero design is supported by positioning the powertrain hardware between the frame rails and behind the front axle. A variable suspension system was developed to customize ride height and optimize aerodynamics. This delivers a 48% reduction in drag over Kenworth’s baseline vehicle.

Central drivinng position offers improved driver view Central drivinng position offers improved driver view (Photo: Kenworth)

Although the SuperTruck 2 is powered using a diesel engine, the layout has been designed to support the use of fuel cells, tanks for hydrogen or natural gas and batteries without changing the basic cab.

“I’m very proud of this project,” added Walenczak. “Kenworth just celebrated its 100th anniversary and SuperTruck 2 builds on Kenworth’s history of providing value to its customers. This truck is an important milestone for us – to look forward and see where we might be going in the future.”

Partner companies which also worked on the SuperTruck 2 project included: AVL (engine development); Eaton (powertrain); the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and Ohio State University.


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