Navistar SuperTruck Achieves 104% Freight Efficiency Improvement

Navistar's SuperTruck demonstration vehicle improved upon freight efficiency through the use of a hybrid front suspension and lightweight rear suspension, and aerodynamic improvements that reduce the trailer's drag over 30%.

Navistar has unveiled its innovative SuperTruck demonstration vehicle, CatalIST, which has achieved a freight efficiency improvement of 104% compared to the control vehicle, exceeding the improvement goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the SuperTruck program. 

In addition, the Navistar vehicle has achieved fuel efficiency of 13 mpg, and demonstrated 50.3% Brake Thermal Efficiency (BTE) and a path towards 55% BTE. 

The last three letters of the vehicle's name, the CatalIST, stand for "International SuperTruck," referencing the company's International commercial truck brand. The "CatalIST" concept underscores the company's conviction that the innovations achieved through the program will serve as the catalyst for significant improvements in future commercial vehicles.

"The CatalIST's significant improvements in freight efficiency, achieved with the support of DOE's SuperTruck program, demonstrate tremendous potential for reduction in the trucking industry's consumption of energy," says Mark Stasell, Vice President, Product Development. "In addition, a number of the technology innovations we have achieved through the program are already being implemented in production vehicles today."

Stasell points to Navistar's predictive cruise control technology as one example of a significant technical innovation the company achieved through the program. Predictive cruise control looks ahead of the vehicle and recognizes the terrain and continuously calculates the most efficient speed and gear for optimal fuel economy in real time. Unlike conventional predictive cruise technology, the company's predictive cruise control uses preinstalled GPS maps and the latest commercial route data to make adjustments to cruising speed without the need to pre-drive the route. 

Other improvements included:

  • Advanced integration of Navistar N13 Engine utilizing proprietary intelligent controls and high efficiency combustion. 
  • Reduction in aerodynamic drag through replacement of cab- and hood-mounted mirrors with a series of cameras and interior-mounted monitors, which also yield equal or better indirect vision for the driver. 
  • A new LED headlamp system that reduces lamp size for a more aerodynamic shape and cuts electrical power requirements by greater than 80%, while improving luminous output and light color for improved night-time direct driver vision and reduced driver fatigue. 
  • An all-new shape with a sloped windshield and wedged cab for improved aerodynamics. Innovative use of lighter-weight carbon-fiber panels in the upper body, roof headers, back panel, and dash panel. 
  • A hybrid front suspension and lightweight rear suspension that leverages lightweight alloys with composite materials, reducing weight and enabling an electronic ride height management system, which provides dynamic ride height and pitch control for improved aerodynamics. 
  • Aerodynamic improvements that reduce the trailer's drag coefficient by more than 30%.

The DOE's SuperTruck program, a five-year-long research and development initiative, focused on improving freight efficiency, a measure of the payload carried while burning less fuel, versus 2009 base model trucks. Its objective was to develop and demonstrate a 50 percent improvement in overall freight efficiency on a heavy-duty Class 8 tractor-trailer vehicle as measured in ton-miles per gallon of diesel fuel.