Medium- and heavy-duty trucks are the backbone of freight transportation systems and vital to economic growth in the United States and China. Increasing the fuel efficiency of these trucks can yield numerous benefits for both countries, including reduced GHG emissions, improved air quality, reduced dependence on oil, and lower transport costs. Innovation in this area is expected to play an important role in enabling and facilitating a transition to low-carbon truck-related transport systems.
Globally, trucks are the second largest source of GHG emissions in the transportation sector. In the United States, medium-and heavy-duty trucks together haul nearly 73% of domestic freight tonnage and account for 4% and 18%, respectively, of energy use in the transportation sector. In China, precise percentages are unknown but are estimated to be higher. While average efficiency in trucks has improved over time, opportunities are plentiful to increase truck fuel efficiency through advancements in powertrains, aerodynamics, and controls. Current DOE efforts to improve truck freight efficiency (as measured in ton-miles per gallon) could reduce GHG emissions by about 178 million metric tons and save about 1.3 million barrels of oil per day by the year 2050.
To accelerate the development and deployment of technologies that will increase the fuel efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, the Presidents of the United States and China announced a fifth CERC consortium in September 2015. This new consortium focuses on developing cost-effective measures to improve the on-road freight efficiency of these trucks by more than 50% compared to the 2016 baseline. Thomas Wallner from Argonne National Laboratory leads the U.S. consortium. Shu Gequn of Tianjin University leads the China consortium.
Consortium research topics include the following areas: