Op­ti­fuel: the aero ap­par­ent

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

AMER­I­CAN and Euro­pean trucks are go­ing to be trans­formed over the next decade as reg­u­la­tors move to drive down emis­sions as well as fuel con­sump­tion.

Given the de­pen­dence on the two mar­kets, Aus­tralia will likely be af­fected by the rules that will change the way trucks are de­signed and how they work.

The Euro­pean cab-over truck will not look any­thing like it does to­day, with new leg­is­la­tion in place to move away from the flat-nosed front end that is space-ef­fi­cient but cre­ates ter­ri­ble drag.

In the US, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has an­nounced two rounds of am­bi­tious tar­gets to slash heavy truck emis­sions and fuel use. The US has the strictest truck emis­sion stan­dards in the world, but the new tar­gets also fo­cus on the amount of fuel con­sumed.

Logic sug­gests re­duc­ing emis­sions and cut­ting fuel use are one and the same, but that’s not ac­tu­ally the case and do­ing both at the same time will need in­vest­ment and in­no­va­tion.

Much of the tech­nol­ogy will go into en­gines and trans­mis­sions, but ad­di­tional el­e­ments, such as aero­dy­namic skirts and drag re­duc­ing trailer at­tach­ments are also go­ing to be part of the mix.

The US in­tro­duced new fuel econ­omy and emis­sion stan­dards last year, but the in­tro­duc­tion is drawn out through to 2017 to en­able mak­ers to man­age their prod­uct life­cy­cles.

By the end of that win­dow, the reg­u­la­tions stip­u­late heavy truck car­bon diox­ide emis­sions and fuel econ­omy will be cut by 23 per cent com­pared to a reg­u­lar 2010 model. US en­vi­ron­men­tal and trans­port agen­cies have an­nounced pre­lim­i­nary reg­u­la­tions to push down CO2 lev­els and fuel con­sump­tion by an ad­di­tional 24 per cent over the 2017 lev­els in a pro­gram that would run through to 2027. The reg­u­la­tions, to ap­ply to both the prime mover and the trailer, are ex­pected to be locked in by 2016.

The gov­ern­ment agen­cies be­hind the reg­u­la­tions, which are be­ing cham­pi­oned by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, say man­u­fac­tur­ers will need to fo­cus on en­gine and trans­mis­sion tech­nol­ogy as well as aero­dy­namic cab de­sign, aero­dy­namic trailer ac­ces­sories, lower rolling re­sis­tance tyres and re­duc­ing the amount of time trucks idle.

Those in­volved in com­ing up with the new reg­u­la­tions are un­der no il­lu­sion the reg­u­la­tions will drive up ini­tial costs, es­ti­mat­ing a new truck would be al­most $20,000 dearer and a trailer about $2000 more.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment agen­cies claim th­ese costs could be re­cov­ered in just two years given the fuel sav­ings.

The trans­port man­ager at the non-profit En­vi­ron­men­tal Defence Fund, Ja­son Mathers, ex­plained on the Sup­ply and De­mand Chain web­site that the reg­u­la­tions will drive down the cost of the tech­nol­ogy be­cause the pro­duc­tion num­bers will be so large. “The pur­pose of reg­u­la­tions is to en­able man­u­fac­tur­ers to bring cost­ef­fec­tive fuel-sav­ing tech­nolo­gies to mar­ket at scale,” he says.

In Europe, a strict new Euro 6 emis­sions stan­dard is now in place but there are no plans on the hori­zon to en­force fuel econ­omy stan­dards for trucks.

How­ever, a sig­nif­i­cant change in di­men­sion reg­u­la­tions an­nounced ear­lier this year could al­low mak­ers to lower con­sump­tion free of any econ­omy stan­dard.

Cur­rently, length re­stric­tions mean flat-nosed cab-overs are nec­es­sary to max­imise load space.

Euro­pean reg­u­la­tors plan to free up this re­stric­tion from 2022, al­low­ing truck mak­ers to fit ve­hi­cles with slop­ing aero­dy­namic nose cones. Euro­pean truck de­sign­ers have ex­per­i­mented with such shapes be­fore and one ex­am­ple, a Re­nault Op­ti­fuel Lab con­cept truck of 2010, re­port­edly made fuel sav­ings of 13.5 per cent.

Euro­pean truck weight limit re­stric­tions will also be re­laxed by 1000kg for hy­brid com­po­nent in­stal­la­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.