21st Century Truck Technical Goals

Specific technology goals have been defined in five critical areas that will reduce fuel usage and emissions while increasing heavy vehicle safety. The aim of the 21st Century Truck Partnership is to support research, development and demonstration that enable achieving these goals with commercially viable products and systems.

Engine Systems

Engine system refers to the combination of fuel, engine, and emissions aftertreatment equipment. Increasing the energy-efficiency of the engine system reduces fuel consumption by a corresponding amount. Specific technology goals are:

  • Develop and demonstrate an emissions compliant engine system for Class 7-8 highway trucks that improves the engine system fuel efficiency by 20% (from approximately 42% thermal efficiency today to 50%) by 2010.
  • Research and develop technologies that will achieve a stretch thermal efficiency goal of 55% in prototype engine systems in 2012.
  • Develop new diesel fuel formulation specifications, which include the use of renewables and other nonpetroleum-based blending agents, that enable achieving high-efficiency and low-emission goals while displacing petroleum fuels by 5% by 2010.

Heavy-Duty Hybrids

A heavy-duty hybrid [>8,500 lb gross vehicle weight (GVW)] implies a hybrid-electric propulsion system and/or any equivalent hybrid technology. The electric propulsion system refers to the combination of the drive unit [a system of electric motor(s), generator(s), mechanical power transmission elements, and inverter(s)], energy storage system(s), and control device(s). Overall challenges include reliability, cost, and system integration, with the conventional heavy-duty automatic transmission as the benchmark. Specific 2012 technology goals are:

  • Develop a drive unit that has 15 years of characteristic life and costs no more than $50 per kilowatt (kW) peak electric power rating.
  • Develop an energy storage system with 15 years of characteristic life that costs no more than $25/kW peak electric power rating.
  • Develop and demonstrate a heavy hybrid propulsion technology that achieves a 60% improvement in fuel economy, on a representative urban driving cycle, while meeting regulated emissions levels for 2007 and thereafter.

Parasitic Losses

Aerodynamic drag resistance, rolling resistance, drivetrain losses, and auxiliary load losses account for 40% of the total fuel energy used to move a heavy-duty vehicle. Specific 2012 technology goals are:

  • Develop and demonstrate advanced technology concepts that reduce the aerodynamic drag of a Class 8 highway tractor-trailer combination by 20% (from a current average drag coefficient of 0.625 to 0.5).
  • Develop and demonstrate technologies that reduce essential auxiliary loads by 50% (from current 20 horsepower to 10 horsepower) for Class 8 tractor-trailers.
  • Develop and demonstrate lightweight material and manufacturing processes that lead to a 15% to 20% reduction in tare weight (for example, a 5000-pound weight reduction for Class 8 tractor-trailer combinations).

Idle Reduction

Class 7 and 8 trucks alone consume over a billion gallons of diesel fuel per year when idling. Achieving specific technology goals will reduce fuel usage and emissions from idling heavy vehicles by more than 85%. These goals are:

  • Develop and demonstrate a 5 kW, $200/kW, diesel-fueled internal combustion engine auxiliary power unit (APU) by 2007.
  • Develop and demonstrate a fuel cell APU system in the 5- to 30-kW range, capable of operating on diesel fuel, at a delivered cost of $400/kW by 2012.
  • Develop consistent electrical codes and standards that apply to both truck (onboard) and truck stop (stationary) electrification technologies, to enable introduction of new idle reduction technologies.


Contribute to reducing truck related fatalities by 50% and truck related injuries by 20% by 2012, relative to 1996, through the development and implementation of technologies in crashworthiness and crash protection.

  • Achieve occupant survivability for vehicle collisions at the front, rear and sides for differential speeds up to 35 miles per hour between heavy vehicles and other typical light mid-size vehicles (weight < 4,000 lb).
  • Develop and implement advanced technologies for braking, rollover protection, visibility enhancement and safety of tires needed to achieve the following performance for crash avoidance:
    • Braking: One-third reduction in stopping distances at operational speeds.
    • Rollover: Maintain vehicle stability without exceeding static rollover thresholds.
    • Visibility: Full operator visibility (360 degrees) with no blind spots anytime, anywhere, and on any side of the heavy vehicle for the operator, and increased on-road recognition of trucks by other vehicles.

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