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November 7, 2016 6:00 PM, EST

PIT Group, U.S. Xpress Launch Fuel-Efficiency Test on Multiple OEMs’ Class 8 Trucks

TUNNEL HILL, Ga. — Engineering and research company PIT Group and truckload carrier U.S. Xpress Enterprises announced they had begun the first in-service fuel-efficiency test in the United States with a variety of Class 8 trucks and various powertrain combinations to compare actual performance levels.

The weeklong test at a U.S. Xpress facility here involves three Model 579 tractors from Peterbilt Motors Co.; two from International Truck, a new 2017 LT model and 2017 ProStar ES; a 2017 Cascadia from Freightliner; and a 2017 T680 from Kenworth Truck Co.

U.S. Xpress called the trucks the most fuel-efficient vehicles offered by the respective truck manufacturers. Peterbilt and Kenworth are brands of Paccar Inc. Freightliner is a brand of Daimler Trucks North America. International is the brand of Navistar Inc.

“We are in the largest [equipment-related] transition period since deregulation, and the hard part is this is a low-margin business, so you have to be skeptical,” said Gerry Mead, senior vice president of maintenance at U.S. Xpress.

“The key to the road test is getting a third-party result” that analyzes the test findings using the various combinations and understands how they were achieved “so we know what is the best,” Mead said.

“This is a competition,” he said, “and that’s how we are looking at it. So we are going to see who wins.”

One truck will ultimately stand out, PIT Group said.

“It will be the best truck in terms of what U.S. Xpress needs,” not the best truck for every fleet, PIT Group Director Yves Provencher said.

PIT Group selected a 60-mile test course on highways and local roads. To mimic typical fleet operations, the tractors will pull new Hyundai TransLead 53-foot trailers loaded identically, the company said.  Also, an in-cab observer from PIT Group will ride with and monitor the carrier’s drivers operating the test trucks.

Each truck carries an identical 50 gallons of fuel in a special fuel tank whose weight has been certified. PIT Group said the overall test qualifies as an ISO-17025-certified process. 

The fuel consumption test is based on RP 1103A, a recommended practice from the Technology & Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations, the company said.

U.S. Xpress Enterprises ranks No. 19 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.