Kenworth Reveals SuperTruck 2 Concept at ACT Expo

Demo Vehicle Combines Aerodynamic Design With a Reimagined Interior That Positions the Driver in the Center of the Cab
Kenworth's SuperTruck 2

Kenworth unveils its high-efficiency SuperTruck 2 demonstration vehicle at ACT Expo 2024 in Las Vegas. The truck was developed over the course of six years. (Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

LAS VEGAS — Kenworth Truck Co. showcased its SuperTruck 2 high-efficiency concept tractor for the first time this week at Advanced Clean Transportation Expo 2024.

With a sloped profile reminiscent of a bullet train, the demonstration vehicle combines an aggressively aerodynamic design with a reimagined interior that positions the driver’s seat in the center of the cab.

The concept vehicle, jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and Kenworth parent company Paccar Inc., was developed over the course of six years under DOE’s SuperTruck 2 program, which challenged truck makers to experiment with emerging technologies that could unlock greater efficiency in future production models.

“SuperTruck 2 provided us with the opportunity to investigate new technologies in an early stage,” said Jim Walenczak, Kenworth general manager and Paccar vice president. “We learned what worked and what didn’t. As a result, we are able to commercialize new technologies much quicker than we would have otherwise.”

Kenworth said its SuperTruck 2 concept has demonstrated a 136% gain in freight-ton efficiency compared with the company’s 2009 T660 model, which it used as a baseline for the project.

That improvement was made possible by boosting the vehicle’s fuel economy up to 12.8 miles per gallon and reducing the tractor-trailer’s combined weight by more than 7,000 pounds to expand payload capacity, the truck maker said.

Interior of Kenworth's SuperTruck 2

Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 concept positions the driver’s seat in the center of the cab and utilizes a camera-based digital mirror system. (Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics)

Moving the driver’s seat to the center position made it possible for the truck maker to incorporate a parabolic windshield that pushes air around the side of the vehicle, said Joe Adams, Kenworth’s chief engineer.

The design also encloses the front and drive axles and covers the steps with its door.

“Aero really drove a lot of those design decisions,” he said.

The diesel-powered truck is equipped with a Paccar MX-11 engine but also features a 48-volt electric generator to support a “mild hybrid” system with lithium-ion batteries that are recharged through regenerative braking. This hybrid system can operate electric fans and electric steering and provides power for other components that were previously mechanically driven, such as HVAC pumps.

A bench test of the MX-11 engine combined with the mild hybrid system and energy waste recovery demonstrated 55.7% engine efficiency, compared with modern diesel engines that operate at about 47% efficiency, the company said.

The Kenworth SuperTruck 2 and its specially designed trailer weigh in at a combined 26,100 pounds, about 7,100 pounds less than a typical tractor-trailer combination.

These weight savings were achieved through a variety of innovations, including 10 new concept tires that weigh less than similar tires on the market. The more efficient powertrain requires less fuel to provide the same vehicle range as a more traditional tractor-trailer, which enabled engineers to use a smaller, 80-gallon fuel tank.


Robby Hamby of Bridgestone Americas and Ken Eggen of Wolf River Express share how fleets should acquire the right tire monitoring tools for data collection. Tune in above or by going to  

The concept truck also incorporates a variable suspension system designed to adjust ride height and optimize aerodynamics. The vehicle’s suspension can be raised over rough roads to avoid obstacles and brought back down when operating on smoother highways.

To help minimize aerodynamic drag, the truck utilizes a digital mirror system instead of physical mirrors. Adding to the truck’s futuristic look, the vehicle’s headlamps wrap around the front fender.

“We wanted to push this beyond just a demonstrator truck,” said Jonathan Duncan, Kenworth’s design director. “We wanted to show something dynamic and what the future of Kenworth might look like.”

When sitting behind the wheel, the driver can view a 15-inch digital display with a configurable gauge layout and driver notifications.

The vehicle also incorporates a newly designed sleeper berth designed to better use space and offer greater comfort for drivers.

Adams expects many of the technologies demonstrated on the concept truck to eventually appear on production vehicles.

“These types of programs really do create innovation that makes it into our industry,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that half or more of these creative innovations will be in a future product.”

While Kenworth’s SuperTruck 2 is powered by a diesel engine, the vehicle’s layout is intended to be powertrain agnostic. The truck is designed to support fuel cells, hydrogen tanks, natural gas tanks or batteries without changes to the cab, the company said.

SuperTruck 2, launched by DOE in 2016 as a follow-up to its original SuperTruck initiative, set a goal for participating truck makers to achieve a 100% increase in freight-ton efficiency compared with a 2009 baseline.

Several other truck manufacturers also have introduced their own SuperTruck 2 designs within the past two years as part of the DOE program, including Daimler Truck North America, Navistar, Volvo Trucks, and a joint project by Peterbilt and Cummins Inc.

DOE also initiated a SuperTruck 3 program in 2021 focused on the advancement of zero-emission technologies for commercial trucks.

In addition to its diesel-powered SuperTruck 2 concept, Kenworth also showcased a hydrogen fuel cell electric version of its flagship T680 tractor as well as its battery-electric T680E model at its booth.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing below or go here for more info: