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Thread: Hybrids are getting bigger!

  1. #1
    mrblanche
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    Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Wal-Mart is developing a semi version:

    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/05...ybrid-big-rig/


  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Yep... it's interesting to point out that the one hybrid that really did offer a significant fuel economy benefit - the Honda Insight - was cancelled due to poor sales....

  3. #3
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    So, the rig goes from 5 mpg to 5.001 mpg with the addition of several thousand dollars in toxic batteries?

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  4. #4
    mrblanche
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    So, the rig goes from 5 mpg to 5.001 mpg with the addition of several thousand dollars in toxic batteries?

    Chip H.
    Wal-Mart says they want to improve their corporate truck mpg average to 13 mpg by 2013, they said. That would just about double the current mileage. I know all their current trucks are equipped with APU's, which eliminate all idling.

  5. #5
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Yep... it's interesting to point out that the one hybrid that really did offer a significant fuel economy benefit - the Honda Insight - was cancelled due to poor sales....
    Poor sales due to poor promotion, due to it being a loss leader; they lost money on every Insight they made. That, and there are not many mainstream applications for a 2-seat hatchback.

  6. #6
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    Wal-Mart says they want to improve their corporate truck mpg average to 13 mpg by 2013, they said. That would just about double the current mileage. I know all their current trucks are equipped with APU's, which eliminate all idling.
    Has any of the manufacturers looked at mproving the aerodynamics of the whole vehicle, not just the tractor?

    It seems to me that you'd have a lot of turbulence under the trailer -- some fairings might improve things.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  7. #7
    mrblanche
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    ConWay is the only company I've seen doing that. There are a lot of sources of drag, but they've made big progress in recent years.

    One new problem is that the increased heat under the hood due to the emissions requirements is killing some of the aerodynamic advances.

  8. #8
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    Has any of the manufacturers looked at mproving the aerodynamics of the whole vehicle, not just the tractor?
    It seems to me that you'd have a lot of turbulence under the trailer -- some fairings might improve things.
    Yes. Full aero truck/trailer combos appeared in the SAE house rag at least ten years ago, and have been tested through several iterations, as lumps of money became available.

    My own impression of why they haven't been universally adopted:
    - The structure to carry the fairings, and the weight of the fairings themselves, cuts into the payload, a lot. Note that the skin of your average box trailer is a structural element, so the frame under the box is lighter than it would otherwise be. Full fairings would nearly double the skin area, and so far nobody has figured out how to make them do double duty to offset their weight.
    - The fairings are much less aerodynamic after their first trip over a railroad crossing. The daylight you see under the average trailer is not there just for fun. Trucks have to negotiate some pretty crappy roads.
    - I'm not aware of much experience with them in icing conditions, but I can conjecture accumulated ice putting a rig over the gross weight limits, fairing damage from ice falling off, and some really interesting dynamics when accumulated ice/mud/crud locks a trailer wheel.

    I think the current semi-aero stuff represents a still-evolving compromise.


  9. #9
    mrblanche
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    As I noted in another thread, CA is trying to mandate more aerodynamics for any trucks coming into CA, as well as retrofitting engines to the latest standards, rather than waiting for the technology to work its way down. If they do that, they are going to have to come out to the border to do any shopping....or the fleets like Schneider, JB Hunt, Werner, etc., are going to have to triple their fleet size.

  10. #10
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    If the aero trailers were interstate-only (long-haul), having to go over rail crossings may not be as much of an issue.

    The weight would take away from the payload, that's true. But how often do you run at the 80,000lb max?

    Mike - if you went from 5-6 mpg to 7-8 mpg, how much of an impact would that have on your business?

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  11. #11
    mrblanche
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    No truck, except "turnpike doubles," is interstate only. You have to get off the highway, get to a terminal, etc. Any dip, turn, or whatever can cause big problems.

    My truck has averaged about 6.25 mph for its entire life. By the way, I'm in Greensboro, NC, right now, having the engineers at Volvo go over my truck to see what "real world" wear does to their good ideas.

    Recent emissions changes have actually lowered mileage. Before the 2003 regulations kicked in, my truck would have gotten about 6.5 mpg. And the newest changes have lowered fleet averages even more, especially since the particulate combustors use fuel to regenerate.

    A change from 6 to 7 is very significant. A change from 5 (typical for a big Cat before the 2003 regs took effect) to 4 mpg (typical for the current ACERT Cats) has bankrupted a lot of owner/operators.

    My engine is a Cummins ISX 15 liter, by the way. 500 hp, 1850 lbs/ft torque. And it got 10.1 mpg driving out here without a trailer.

  12. #12
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    I drove by the Volvo place on I-85 a couple of weekends ago.
    Maybe one day they'll actually be done with the construction along there.


    What if the fairings could be folded up?

    You'd fold down the support braces from the bottom of the trailer, then fold down the fairings and secure them to the braces, just prior to getting on the interstate. Reverse when you get to a partially-improved road. You'd get the better milage for the longer distance, plus still have the ground clearance for going over curbs and tracks.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  13. #13
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    It's the step _after_ "How 'bout this?" that keeps engineers busy.

    Sure, it can be done. Associated challenges are not all technical.

    - Articulated structure is a little heavier than fixed structure. So is articulated aero; you have to reinforce the edges.
    - An aero skirt comprises ~100 linear feet of heavy duty fiberglass, figure the weight of a nice boat. Which you could otherwise carry... and get _paid_ for carrying.
    - If you just let it clang down, you later have to lift it up. So you get either a plague of back and finger injuries, or you add a powered lift/lower system.
    - Powered lift/lower system adds weight/ subtracts from payload.
    .. etc.


  14. #14
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Jim Hall solved this problem in the '60s with movable Lexan skirts on one of the later Chapparal Can Am cars. And since they were on a race car, you can be sure they weren't heavy.

  15. #15
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    IIRC the Lexan skirts were not movable. The snowmobile engine just sucked the car down on them, and they abraded away until the sucker and the suspension reached equilibrium. I'd assume they were replaced after every race, and yes, didn't weigh a lot, except relative to the cars, which weighed almost nothing by car standards.

    They were later replaced with bristle brushes, which have more recently been used to control road spray on RV sterns and UPS trucks. I don't know if they're stiff enough to work as an aero skirt. I'm guessing not, or you'd see them under semi bumpers.


  16. #16
    mrblanche
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Almost anything big enough to be helpful in a truck is going to be a serious weight issue. After all, the paint alone on a whole rig weighs something like 250 lbs.

  17. #17
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    Almost anything big enough to be helpful in a truck is going to be a serious weight issue. After all, the paint alone on a whole rig weighs something like 250 lbs.
    Do any truck mfgrs or aftermarket sources use/offer carbon fiber components? The stuff has come down in price and is now pretty commonly used in both new cars and sport bikes....

  18. #18
    mrblanche
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    You mean like shift knobs, etc., or do you mean body parts?

  19. #19
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    You mean like shift knobs, etc., or do you mean body parts?
    Body parts - to reduce weight without sacrificng strength/structural rigidity, etc.

    I know these composites are expensive - but maybe that could be balanced by fuel savings OTR?

  20. #20
    DonTom
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    Re: Hybrids are getting bigger!

    "My truck has averaged about 6.25 mph for its entire life. "

    That sure is SLOW!!!

    -Don- (Reno)

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