MorElectric = less fuel, less pollution

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Wabash National has announced that it intends to develop a 10-year, maintenance-free trailer, referred to internally as the “Wabash 10.” The project will be headed by newly appointed Chief Technology Officer Rod Ehrlich.

International Truck and Engine now offers the Cummins ISM 410 horsepower rating on International 8600 and 9000i Series vehicles. The ISM 425V HP vocational rating is available in the 5000i series vehicles. The ratings offer increased horsepower and 1550 lb-ft of torque combined with a lightweight package of 2,190 pounds (dry weight).

Index Sensors & Controls has signed a three-year agreement to supply temperature and pressure switches to Cummins Engine.

Pilot Travel Centers has signed an agreement to begin stocking and selling Goodyear truck tires at its travel centers.

Petro Stopping Centers has agreed to allow immediate installation of IdleAire Technologies’ Advanced Travel Center Electrification (ATE) system.

Volvo Premium 15W40 motor oil, a proprietary blend used as the factory fill in Volvo engines, is now available at Volvo Truck dealers in North America.

General Motors’ OnStar division has selected IBM to provide interactive speech technology for its next-generation, “Gen6” telematics applications.

Volvo Logistics North America has joined the EPA SmartWay Transport Partnership to help reduce emissions from freight transportation.

Equipment Puzzler
Last month, we asked what happened to a trailer tire.

Darius Cooper, vice president of operations for Maverick Transportation, Little Rock, Ark., wrote that it probably “came in contact with an object attached to the trailer frame.”

That’s a big 10-4. The trailer was a car hauler, and the object was a hanging securement chain, which the tire repeatedly ran over on a long trip. The chain was just long enough to make it under the tire a couple of inches, so only the closest tread rib got taken out.

Darius, of course, gets a chrome CCJ pen and Air Brake Book. So can you, if you’re the first to correctly answer this month’s Puzzler, or if you submit a Puzzler that we use. E-mail your answer or Puzzler to

This month’s Puzzler: Why shouldn’t you indiscriminately switch your vehicles over to a grease that’s different from what you’ve been using?

CCJ first reported on the MorElectric concept a couple of years ago (see “Technically Speaking,” CCJ, May 2002). Now, the hardware is taking shape.

The trucking community got a look at an actual prototype, MorElectric-equipped vehicle at this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show.

The Department of Energy is spearheading the $4.8 million MorElectric program in collaboration with Caterpillar, Kenworth, Emerson and Engineered Machined Products. Cat Electronics is responsible for system integration, control software development and system performance. Kenworth provided the truck. Engineered Machined Products built the water pump. And Emerson brought its electric motor and control expertise.

In the MorElectric system, the engine drives a large generator mounted inside the bell housing. The generator, which doubles as a starting motor, provides power for electric motors driving accessories that traditionally are mechanically powered by the engine, via belts or gears. The prototype also features an auxiliary power unit and shore power plug-in capability to help crush idling like the parasite it is.

The system allows flexible vehicle design because accessories no longer need to be located in or on the engine. In addition, the system runs its loads only when they are needed, at the speed needed, rather than constantly at engine speed. Moreover, Cat forecasts a reduction in parts and costs through the use of plug-in modules, which should reduce assembly and repair times.

Accessories in the prototype converted to electric power include the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, brake air compressor and oil and water pumps.

Various aspects of the technology showcased in the prototype are expected to be commercially available late in 2005. That’s a year later than originally forecast, but the results should make it worth the wait.

Freightliner unveils wind tunnel
Freightliner last month opened a 12,000-square-foot wind tunnel at its Portland, Ore., base, allowing the truck maker more flexibility in researching and testing the aerodynamics of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Until now, Freightliner has had to use other wind tunnel facilities in other cities at a high per-use charge. More important, company officials say, the new Portland facility was designed specifically to accommodate a heavy-duty truck.

“The new wind tunnel facility is an example of Freightliner’s continuing focus on technological leadership in the truck manufacturing industry,” said Freightliner President and CEO Rainer Schmueckle. “The wind tunnel will help us make further gains in aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, which will ultimately lower operating costs for our customers.”

Long-term, the company has set a goal of a 15 percent reduction in drag, which would translate into an estimated 5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. Company engineers say they will reach this milestone not by a revolutionary revamping of truck design but through dozens of small, almost imperceptible, changes in design. That’s why Freightliner believes having a dedicated on-site wind tunnel will give it an edge.

Wind tunnels are typically very expensive facilities, but Freightliner built its Portland wind tunnel at a fraction of the cost of similar facilities. To save on space, the tunnel is designed to accommodate a heavy-duty tractor and only the front end of a trailer. Because Freightliner only controls design of the power unit, it decided it only needed a small portion of the trailer just to determine the aerodynamics at the point of mating. Also, the company used largely off-the-shelf commercial ventilation fans rather than customized fans typically used in such facilities.

Dana at 100
Dana Corp. recently celebrated its 100th birthday. On April 1, 1904, an engineer named Clarence Spicer began producing his encased universal joint, which would eventually allow a driveshaft to replace the chain drive on vehicles of the day.

Spicer’s product was protected by two patents he earned while studying engineering at Cornell University. When his patents were published in early journals, motor vehicle manufacturers quickly demanded the product. Attorney and financier Charles Dana became involved in 1914, and expanded production to include axles, frames, transmissions and engine products.

Goodyear, Siemens join to save tires
Goodyear is working on a joint venture with Siemens that combines Siemens’ electronic technology with Goodyear’s tire expertise to produce a smart chip imbedded in tires. First, the smart chip will give a tire an electronic ID number, which will track a casing throughout its life. Second, it will monitor inflation pressure and alert the driver if there’s a problem via an in-cab warning system. Goodyear expects to introduce the system commercially in about five years.

SmarTruck III – and beyond
International Truck and Engine and the U.S. Army have unveiled “the next generation of military and commercial vehicles.” The two new concept vehicles are built on International’s four-wheel-drive, medium-duty High Performance Truck platform.

The military version, SmarTruck III (shown), will provide advanced capabilities in communication and detection systems while offering improved fuel economy and increased armor protection. The Commercial Utility Vehicle version can be modified to serve a range of potential customers, from the U.S. Border Patrol to the Department of Homeland Security to applications in the construction industry. The prototypes are the first introductions from International’s new military business operation.

Graphiq makes it clear
Nexiq’s Pro-Link Graphiq is a new handheld scan tool designed to make interpreting diagnostic data more clear and accessible. It supports more than 50 manufacturer-specific applications and has graphing capabilities and a color display.

Graphiq tests a variety of electronic control systems, diesel engines, transmissions, brakes and instrument panels. Using additional applications, it can provide factory-level diagnostic information, including on-screen trouble code definitions, OEM data parameters, advanced functional tests and reprogramming capabilities.

Data can be graphed in real-time to help pinpoint even challenging intermittent problems. A built-in flight recorder collects data and provides a diagnostic snapshot during test-drives for later review. The unit graphs up to four data parameters to show relationships and trends over time to isolate reoccurring and potential problems.

The unit features a large, 1/4 VGA, adjustable, backlit LCD that is bright enough to view data in dim light or direct sunlight.

Graphiq is fully compatible with existing Pro-Link Multi-Protocol Cartridges and previous Pro-Link software titles. It’s available individually and in kits that contain the scan tool hardware and manufacturer- and application-specific software. Software applications are also available separately.