Wabash National unveils details on high-tech SuperTruck trailer

US OEM Wabash National has released new details on a futuristic looking semi-trailer that was recently presented as part of Navistar’s SuperTruck concept vehicle.

According to Wabash, the company’s main focus when designing the concept vehicle was on aerodynamic improvement, with the resulting unit’s drag coefficient having been reduced by more than 30 per cent over a standard model.

Three devices used to aerodynamically optimise the trailer are based on equipment that is already commercially available today, such as the company’s Ventix side skirt as well as AeroFin tail device and nose fairing, said Brian Bauman, Vice President and General Manager, Wabash Composites.

“Each of the components selected for [the trailer to go with Navistar’s SuperTruck project] were designed as concepts of what the next generation of aerodynamic devices will look like from Wabash National.

“On the heels of the GHG2 rule (US Greenhouse Gas emissions legislation, ed.) being finalised, the industry will need to innovate in order to meet fuel efficiency standards in the future. The SuperTruck initiative allowed us to leverage our fleet-proven aerodynamic technologies and years of aerodynamic research and development to innovate with our customer in mind.”

In addition to the aerodynamic device additions, Wabash managed to reduce the weight of the trailer by more than 2,000 pounds (ca. 907kg) compared to a 2009 dry van. All components used to reduce the weight of the trailer, such as wide-base single tires and a variety of aluminium componentry, are commercially available too, Baumann said.

Administered by the US Department of Energy, the SuperTruck program is a five-year Research & Development initiative focused on improving freight efficiency* in North America by 50 per cent compared to a 2009 base model heavy-duty combination.

The program is currently funding four projects to develop and demonstrate cost-effective technologies to save fuel, including one by Navistar and Wabash. The two companies unveiled their SuperTruck model on 28 September, reporting a 104 per cent improvement in freight efficiency.

*The amount of freight hauled per gallon/ lire of fuel used, ed.

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