US deputy assistant Secretary for Transportation, Reuben Sarkar, has announced more than US$12m will be available for three new cost-shared projects focused on the research, development, and demonstration of plug-in electric powertrain technologies for medium and heavy-duty vehicles.

"Improving the efficiency of commercial trucks is critical to reducing our petroleum consumption, strengthening our clean energy economy and further reducing our contributions to climate change," said Sarkar.

"This new funding will not only accelerate innovation but also foster rapid market adoption of new energy-efficient vehicle technologies."

The news comes after the Department of Energy launched its SuperTruck initiative in 2010. Vehicles developed under SuperTruck I are Class 8 combination trucks – commonly known as 18-wheelers – that dramatically increase tractor-trailer fuel, engine and drivetrain efficiency through the use of advanced technologies.

As the backbone of domestic freight transportation, 18-wheelers haul 70% of all freight tonnage.

SuperTruck II projects will research, develop, and demonstrate technologies to improve heavy-truck freight efficiency by more than 100%, relative to a manufacturer's best-in-class 2009 truck.

Achieving Class 8 truck efficiency increases will require an integrated approach to ensure components of the vehicle work together. SuperTruck II projects will utilise a variety of truck and trailer technology approaches to achieve performance targets, such as improvements in engine and drivetrain efficiency, aerodynamic drag, tyre rolling resistance, and vehicle weight.  

Recipients of funding for plug-in electric powertrain technologies for medium and heavy-duty vehicles are: Robert Bosch (Farmington Hills, MI) which will receive US$5m to develop and demonstrate a medium-duty plug in hybrid vehicle powertrain that reduces fuel consumption by 50%. 

Cummins Corporate Research and Technology (Columbus, IN) will be allocated US$4.5m to develop and demonstrate a Class 6 plug in hybrid delivery truck that reduces fuel consumption by 50%.

McLaren Performance Technologies (Livonia, MI) will receive US$2.6m to develop a Class 6 delivery truck with a scalable, lightweight, low-cost and commercially-viable plug-in electric drive system that improves fuel economy by 100%.