No way a 900lb weight reduction is going to come anywhere near 40% fuel reduction. If the aero is a lot better and on longer distance higher speed routes it might be better but even there it's unlikely.
Few parts on this are composites, mostly snap on pieces. If they really want fuel savings the whole body/chassis needs to be composite for a 50% weight reduction vs the 10-20% one.
NASA did a wind tunnel, etc study on trucks and with a few simple changes cut their aero drag by 50% to .25cd.
If I was a large truck usrs like UPS I'd have had composite EV drive hybrid trucks yrs ago and now they's run on NG when not on the grid.
Yes, this is a remarkable advance. I would think this could become a wake-up call to all freight bearing vehicles. Even if this particular truck maker is committed to UPS, the concepts could be applied to any manufacturer of freight carriers.
Now there's an interesting angle, since the truck weighs less, it can have a smaller engine, needs smaller brakes and frame and so on resulting in a benevolent spiral of reduced weight and lower power requirements. I think especially for local delivery the smaller trucks make sense, I typically see them lightly loaded when they stop at my place.
@Ocmer Gnojed: Your sarcasm was obvious, but it's a serious point. UPS and Utilimaster seem to be pushing the idea that the composite body panels are responsible for the fuel savings, but, as you point out, it's unlikely that the weight reductions are responsible for more than a very small part of this.
The New York Times article indicates that the new trucks use a (2.5L?) 150 HP Isuzu I4, compared to their current trucks, which apparently use a 6.7L 215 HP Cummins I6. The lion's share of the fuel efficiency increase is almost certainly due to this.
Why does the publicity focus on the composite body panels? In my opinion, there are two likely reasons: first of all, the use of advanced materials sounds much more innovative than simply using a smaller engine. Second, I'm sure they don't want to burn any bridges with Cummins.
Interestingly enough, it looks like you can get a huge increase in fuel efficiency per ton of freight simply by using a larger truck. Of course, UPS might have trouble getting a tractor-trailer to your door. But they could potentially save quite a bit of fuel by maximizing their usage of larger trucks.
I tried to drip enough sarcasm on it to make it obvious, sorry. Next time I'll be clearer. To be very clear: 40% fuel savings are huge, the entire industry would be on this like syrup on waffles, to save 900 lb by replacing "materials" with plastics is phenomenal, together with the 40% savings you have a premise that couldn't be supported by rational thought. Shucks.
@Ocmer Gnojed: I'd expect the empty weight of a standard delivery van to be about 4½ tons, or 9000 pounds. So a 900 pound reduction represents about a 10% reduction in weight. I'm surprised that they were able to get a 40% increase in fuel efficiency from a 10% weight reduction, especially since previous studies I've read suggest that a 10% weight reduction yields an increase in fuel efficiency of less than 10%. On the other hand, the last paragraph of the article indicates that Utilimaster made some significant architectural changes as well.
Wow, 40% by shaving 900lb, let me see, shave a little more than a ton and I'd save 100%... Pretty impressive. And striking that this is initiated by a single customer, rather than the company trying to sell trucks... Truly amazing.
Thanks for highlighting this development. It's little things like this improvement over time that make a big difference to our energy needs. Hats off to UPS for taking steps to innovate, even if it isn't "sexy" new technology.
At this year's MD&M West show, lots of material suppliers are talking about new formulations for wearables and things that stick to the skin, whether it's adhesives, wound dressings, skin patches and other drug delivery devices, or medical electronics.
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