24 April 2000

US Vice President Al Gore announced "21st Century Truck Initiative," a new research partnership with many of the nation's largest heavy-duty engine and truck companies to develop super fuel-efficient vehicles that will dramatically improve America's fuel economy while cutting greenhouse gases and other air pollution. The announcement was made on April 21, during a ceremony near Detroit, MI.

"This new technology will reduce our consumption of foreign oil, clean our air and ultimately make our roads safer," Gore said. "The heavy truck manufacturing industry deserves great credit for pledging to work with this Administration to create trucks and buses that are cleaner, safer and more economical. We have learned that a strong economy and a safe environment go hand in hand."

The goal of the 21st Century Truck Initiative is to develop technologies for increasing the fuel economy and safety of four specific classes of commercial trucks and buses, which account for more than 90% of all fuel used by all such vehicles in the USA. This partnership to develop advanced technologies is designed to lead, within 10 years, to "production prototypes" that:

  • Triple the fuel economy of heavy pickups, large delivery vans, and full-sized passenger buses;
  • Double fuel economy for 18-wheeler long-haul trucks;
  • Improve safety;
  • Achieve superior operational performance and lower costs for truckers;
  • Exceed expected emission requirements for 2010 by making major reductions in NOx, particulates, and other local air pollutants.

Another goal of the Initiative is to strengthen the national security by cutting operational support costs and increasing combat effectiveness. 70% of the bulk tonnage needed to sustain the military during a conflict is fuel. As the US Army transforms itself to be a lighter, more mobile force, the rapid integration of advanced commercially viable technologies into trucks is vital.

The Administration's FY2001 budget proposes to increase spending in areas supporting 21st Century truck research by $47 Million to a total of $142 Million - a 48% increase. A Research Plan and Technology Roadmap to focus and prioritize the directions of research will be developed over the next several months by government and industry partners, with assistance from the academic community. Expected research priorities include the following:

  • advanced propulsion technology, with a focus on advanced diesel engine, hybrid electric, fuel cell, and advanced drivetrain technologies;
  • fuels, with a focus on clean burning fuels that are adaptable to the full range of propulsion sources;
  • advanced materials, with a focus on the optimized use of materials like high strength steels, aluminum, magnesium, and composites;
  • vehicle intelligence, with a focus on advanced communication and early warning technologies, vehicle diagnostics and prognostics;
  • advancements in vehicle designs to reduce aerodynamic drag, with a focus also on reducing other forms of parasitic losses like rolling resistance; and,
  • safety, with a focus on the driver-environment, driver-hardware and hardware-environment areas.

The 21st Century Truck Initiative research will be conducted in four federal agencies: the Departments of Defense (represented by the US Army), Energy, Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Industry participants are: Mack Trucks, Oshkosh Trucks, PACCAR, Volvo Trucks North America, Cummins Engine Company, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel Corporation, Eaton Corporation, and Lockheed Martin Control Systems.

Source: Office of the US Vice President