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Paccar, Daimler, Volvo get bulk of $127M in SuperTruck 3 funding

Top manufacturers snag biggest share of federal energy efficiency grants

Truck manufacturers Paccar Inc., Daimler Trucks North America and Volvo Group North America snagged the lion’s share of $127 million in federal SuperTruck 3 money to pursue advanced battery-electric and fuel cell electric truck projects.

Funding also went to automakers General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. to develop Class 4-6 medium-duty projects. In total, the Department of Energy awarded $199 million to fund 25 projects to help put cleaner cars and trucks on the road.

When originally announced in April, SuperTruck 3 was a four-year funding opportunity capped at $100 million. All funding is subject to congressional appropriation.

Transportation emits more carbon pollution than any other sector of the U.S. economy, making up approximately 29% of emissions. 

5-year funding match

SuperTruck 3 is the third round of funding through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to help truck makers develop more fuel- and freight-efficient trucks. Advances from the first two programs are either available for trucks today or soon will be.

SuperTruck 3 is a dollar-for-dollar five-year matching program to reduce pollution through electrified medium- and heavy-duty trucks and freight system concepts aimed at achieving higher efficiency and zero emissions.

Grant recipients, award amounts and their SuperTruck 3 projects announced Monday were:

  • PACCAR Inc., $33 million to develop 18 Class 8 battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles with advanced batteries and a demonstration megawatt charging station.
  • Volvo Group North America, $18 million to develop a 400-mile-range Class 8 battery-electric tractor-trailer with advanced aerodynamics, electric braking, EV-optimized tires, automation and route planning. It also will develop and demonstrate a megawatt charging station.
  • Daimler Trucks North America, $26 million to develop and demonstrate two Class 8 fuel cell trucks with a 600-mile range, 25,000-hour durability and the payload capacity and range equivalent to diesel.
  • Ford Motor Co., $25 million to develop and demonstrate five hydrogen fuel cell electric Class 6 Super Duty trucks targeting cost, payload, towing and fueling times equivalent to conventional gasoline trucks. 
  • General Motors Co., $26 million to develop and demonstrate four hydrogen fuel cell and four battery electric Class 4-6 trucks. The project will also focus on developing clean hydrogen via electrolysis and clean power for fast charging.  

Beating program goals

DTNA exceeded the goals of the initial SuperTruck program, designing a truck that demonstrated more than 115% improvement in overall freight efficiency compared to a 2009 baseline truck.

In SuperTruck 2, DTNA achieved more than a 50% engine brake thermal efficiency improvement. Greater efficiency is expected when Super Truck 2 results are announced next year.

“Inaction is not an option,” said Rainer Müller-Finkeldei, DTNA senior vice president of engineering and technology. “We remain laser-focused on our goal to electrify our trucks and to help build the necessary infrastructure.”

Daimler and Volvo have a joint venture to make fuel cell vehicles later this decade that would be sold under each company’s brands.

Volvo said its first SuperTruck demonstrator vehicle exceeded the first SuperTruck goal, and the company is on track with its SuperTruck 2 project to more than double Class 8 vehicle payload per mile per gallon for productivity gains and improved fuel efficiency. 

Volvo’s SuperTruck 3 proposal targets breakthroughs in zero-emission vehicle freight solutions to serve logistics operations for the company’s manufacturing plants along a 400-mile route across several mid-Atlantic states. The proposed scope detailed five routes with different mileages, payload capacities, and Class 8 specifications and high-power charging solutions. 

As the projects unfold, most participants take on industry supplier partners.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.