Two identical trucks, two different drivers, two different outcomes when you look at fuel economy.
“And that difference can be dramatic, up to 30 percent*,” said Kevin Baney, Kenworth chief engineer. “We’ve honed our Kenworth trucks to be as fuel-efficient as possible, led by our T680 Advantage. But drivers are another variable – everyone drives differently and the gap between a fleet’s highest performer in fuel economy can be vastly different from the lowest performer.”
With that in mind, Baney said Kenworth has been very active in developing technology that will help drivers achieve top fuel economy. “At the Mid-America Trucking Show, we’re showcasing four technology advancements that all can make a tremendous difference by helping to close the fuel economy gap among drivers.”
According to Baney, “Predictive Cruise Control can help drivers obtain even better fuel economy. The Driver Shift Aid and the Driver Reward System can also contribute to improved fuel economy. The Kenworth Driver Performance Assistant, introduced as an option last fall, is now standard on Kenworth T680s and T880s spec’d with the PACCAR MX-13 engine,” he said.
Predictive Cruise Control: Combine cruise control with GPS and you have an intelligent autopilot when it comes to speed. “Our system, available on the Kenworth T680 and T880, when spec’d with the PACCAR MX-13, anticipates the terrain ahead and ensures the engine and transmission are operating in the most efficient mode,” said Baney. “On hilly or mountainous terrain, the system slightly increases the speed of the truck as it approaches a hill, then feathers off the throttle automatically when the truck is about to crest the hill.”
Driver Shift Aid: Available on Kenworth models utilizing the PACCAR MX-13 engine with manual transmissions, the Kenworth Driver Shift Aid provides a visual cue – “shift now” light – for when to shift. “With engine peak torques at lower RPMs, this is a great tool to help drivers hit the sweet spot in shifting,” he said. “It even checks for driveability after the shift – which is based on the PACCAR MX-13’s unique engine torque curve and internal fuel map. What’s more, the Shift Aid recommends skip or split shifting. All told, by keeping the engine in the optimum RPM range, fuel economy is enhanced.”
Kenworth Driver Performance Assistant: Kenworth’s Driver Performance Assistant is a built-in virtual driver’s coach and a tool to improve driver performance for fleets and owner operators.
The system provides drivers with real-time coaching based on coasting and braking as a means to improve fuel economy. A point system gives drivers, and fleets, the visual feedback they need to impact improvement. “The ‘assistant’ may calculate if they performed at a very high level – 80 percent or more – or it may give them a low score to help indicate where improvement may be made,” said Baney.
During rest periods, drivers can push a button to view trip performance. “It displays an overall performance chart – it might show the driver is coasting at a 90 percent efficiency rating, and gently braking 80 percent of the time,” he said. “It then combines the scores to give an overall driver performance rating.”
The Kenworth Driver Performance Assistant also gives reminder tips – when the truck is parked – to help maximize fuel economy. “For example, it can show a reminder that engine idling can consume up to half a gallon of fuel per hour. These little reminders can help make more of a positive impact on performance than one might think,” said Baney.
The Kenworth Driver Performance Assistant can be customized and programmed to offer performance settings selected by fleets or owner operators.
Driver Rewards: According to Baney, this is where much of Kenworth’s driver performance technology can all come together. For fleets that want more control, they can reward good driving performance with speed adjustments.
“It’s a way for fleets to tell their drivers, ‘if you help us, we can help you,’ ” he said. “It can be a win-win proposition where fleets that see positive fuel economy results from a driver and can, in turn, increase cruise speed on the vehicle.” The system uses fuel economy and percent idle time and the rewards program can be totally customized by the fleet.
“Kenworth will continue to integrate effective technologies, such as Kenworth’s Predictive Cruise Control, Driver Shift Aid, Driver Performance Assistant and Driver Rewards, to help fleets and drivers enhance the fuel economy of their trucks,” concluded Baney.
Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth’s Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.
*Individual fuel economy improvement will vary depending on use, road conditions and other factors.