Big-Rig Technologies Provide Peek at Pickup Truck Future

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Advanced technology powertrains and self-driving vehicles are two important topics in the auto industry that likely will have a major impact on pickup trucks in the future. Just about every automaker has powertrain and autonomy advancements in their strategy plans. But even though automakers are looking to the future, it looks like the first real-world applications of advanced powertrains and vehicle autonomy will be in the big-rig cargo-hauling arena.

Related: The Future of Trucking Drives Closer

 

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Case in point: Toyota just announced at the 2019 CES in Las Vegas that it will partner with big-rig-maker Kenworth Truck Co. to produce the first production Class 8 hydrogen-fuel-cell big rigs to haul heavy cargo across Southern California from the Port of Los Angeles, one of the largest ports in the world. The first real-world application of the new powertrains, a direct result of an earlier Toyota collaboration with Kenworth, will be in the popular Kenworth T680 platform. The fuel-cell powertrain has a 300-mile-plus range; Toyota says the 10 hydrogen-powered electric big rigs will go into operation in 2020. Even though Toyota isn't saying so, we imagine that a version of this new powertrain technology could trickle down to more consumer vehicles like the Sequoia SUV or full-size Tundra pickup truck. However, to make that happen, the powertrains will have to be smaller and lighter, and more hydrogen fueling stations will have to be built.

Also at CES, Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler revealed its newest Freightliner Cascadia Class 8 rig that's equipped with Mercedes' most advanced semi-autonomous technology to date. The German automaker has been working on big-rig autonomy for long-distance, cross-country cargo hauling for several years, and we were quite impressed when we got a chance to ride inside one. But now Daimler is taking big-rig driving autonomy to a whole new level.

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The Freightliner's newest semi-autonomous-driving system is categorized as SAE Level 2, meaning it has automated functions like startup, braking, acceleration and steering but the driver must remain engaged with the driving tasks and monitor the environment. Features like adaptive cruise control, collision warning and automatic emergency braking could reduce rear-end collisions by as much as 60 to 80 percent, as well as reduce driver fatigue. The big news, though, is Daimler's ambitious plan to skip Level 3 conditional autonomy — in which a driver is necessary but not required to monitor the driving environment — to Level 4 high automation, meaning the vehicle can perform all driving functions under certain conditions. In Level 3, the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times; in Level 4, drivers "may" have the option to control the vehicle.

We think semi-autonomous and autonomous driving makes more sense in the cargo-hauling sector than in the personal consumer arena because there's a consistent amount of big-rig traffic flowing on standardized routes with little variation. Even consumer electric vehicle companies like Tesla are poised to jump into the big-rig sector with semi-autonomous vehicles to grab attention and potential profits. And at some point in 2019, Tesla should reveal its consumer electric pickup truck, likely with some new big-rig technology inside.

Whether these new powertrain or self-driving technologies stay exclusive to the big-rig sector or filter down to our cargo-hauling three-quarter and one-ton pickup trucks is anyone's guess. All we know is that it's not likely to happen anytime soon. But it sure is interesting to think about.

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Comments

Another reason for starting with capital-intensive items like a semi is pretty clear. The additional cost of a high-tech bauble is easily blended into a six-figure sticker price.

Such an expense would stick out like a sore thumb on a vehicle that sells in the $40-60k range.

"Another reason for starting with capital-intensive items like a semi is pretty clear. The additional cost of a high-tech bauble is easily blended into a six-figure sticker price.

Such an expense would stick out like a sore thumb on a vehicle that sells in the $40-60k range.
Posted by: papajim"

Hiding the cost of the tech is probably harder with a CPA reviewing the cost regularly. But, the CPA will love doing away with the cost of the driver(s) and 24/7 availability without overtime pay. As a side benefit the truck won't be left idling 12hrs a day to keep a sleeping driver comfortable.

@Walt

I'm sure a good CPA knows the difference between an operating expense (your comment) and a capital expense (my comment). Do you?

Eventually the high tech bauble will come to pickups but that is a ways off and when the technology becomes much less expensive but even then it will be available in the top trim trucks not likely a fleet truck or even a mid trim. I could see this on a Denali, High Country, Platinum, King Ranch, and Longhorn but not anytime soon especially with some of those trucks approaching 100k.

Hydrogen fuell cell is NOT a good idea for transport trucks

https://futureofworking.com/10-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-hydrogen-fuel-cells/

My money is on EV trucks such as Tesla semi

What about LNG? Go to the web and check out the OTR haulers running natural gas for regional deliveries. Saddle Creek Logistics for example.

"Hydrogen fuell cell is NOT a good idea for transport trucks ... My money is on EV trucks such as Tesla semi". ---- Posted by: Chevrolet builds a better way to see the USA

I'm going to disagree with you, Cb. The fuel cell has an advantage in the Class 8; The tractor's big enough to carry enough conversion square footage to reach almost any power it may need--up to 1000 hp easy and possibly quite a bit more if necessary.

Now, I'll grant a fuel cell isn't up to handling rapid changes in power levels; it's designed for steady-state output. But what it can do is feed a couple hundred kilowatt-hours in battery packs to handle the variability (and long grades) while the fuel cell keeps those batteries charged. You get the benefit of hydrogen for quick refueling and long range and the batteries for instant power and regenerative braking for speed control up and down mountain roads.

"What about LNG? Go to the web and check out the OTR haulers running natural gas for regional deliveries. Saddle Creek Logistics for example." ---- Posted by: papajim

--- lower specific power from CNG, usually seen as a significantly reduced fuel mileage in those vehicles (granted at a lower "price per gallon".) Great for local work but problematical for regional or long-distance work.

@Vulpine

Not at all problematic. Although they also have some diesel rigs, Saddle Creek has a big fleet of natural gas powered semis.

These gas rigs have a round-trip range sufficient to serve the entire state of Florida except for the far western part (up around Pensacola).

That allows a mid-sized trucking firm on I-4 to serve over 90 percent of the 20 million residents here. Saddle Creek's success attracted major logistics firms to locate in this area. It works.

@ Mark Williams
Mercedes-Benz is the parent company Daimler Trucks is the US name for the US truck division Mercedes-Benz trucks owns Freightliner Mercedes-Benz Fuso and Indian bharat benz

Daimler owned or had shares in a number of car, bus, truck and motorcycle brands including Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, Smart Automobile, Detroit Diesel, Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built Buses, Setra, BharatBenz, Mitsubishi Fuso, MV Agusta as well as shares in Denza, KAMAZ and Beijing Automotive Group.

Provided as a public service by papajim, courtesy wikipedia

@ papajim When others use Wiki for reference you ridicule the use but now you use Wiki.
You can't deny as the post appears below.

It is too good to be true! We have the rich choice of believing JTT because he hopes for it to be true, or we can believe Wikipedia because a contributor to that site said it's true.

Here's the truth. The world's auto industry is over capacity. Capacity is an expense, whether or not you're over or "surplus." At this time car companies are desperately trying to manage and/or eliminate costs. Aggressively.

Ford is undergoing a plan that will cost 11 billion dollars, according to their latest filings and press releases. The goal? To eliminate waste and to streamline the company for the future.

JTT wants to "find" the capacity needed to chase his personal windmill---Ranger domination. Left up to him, Ford's new capacity would surely require investment capital because you don't just "find" manufacturing capacity, unless you live in a third world country.

Good luck to JTT and Merry Christmas to all.


Posted by: papajim | Dec 16, 2018 1:20:29 AM

@JTT

The article is about big rigs. WTF?

Papajim If wiki good enough for you to use. Then tell why poke at my use of it. Bet you do not have a logical answer.

@papajim
Daimler Benz is the other name for MB, pretty interchangeable here
That Wikipedia article gives an idea of the companies size

@papajim
What was left out of the Wikipedia entry is MB is a Truck, Van and Car entity/name as well

Way to go Robert. If the facts don't fit just make 'em up.

Bet you do not have a logical answer.
Posted by: Just the truth | Jan 11, 2019

Actually I do but I'll need to find something so I can fish it out of the toilet for you.

Apart from that little aside, I ask you to refer back to my randomly sourced December 2018 message so that you can learn from the word-crafting, accuracy and grammatical superiority of my posts.

There's more insight and wit in that one short commentary than I've seen to date in all the annoying posts you've ever put on PUTC.

papajim Use all the words you want it does not change the facts. The facts is you can't stand to be shown wrong or where you contradict yourself.

@JTT

Please begin by settling on ONE username for a few weeks.

It might earn you some sorely needed respect. At this point I don't think there's a single commenter on this site that hasn't pegged you for a total boob.

@ Papajim Attacking me will not make you right. You show the man you are not when you attack and lie.

But it appears that is all you have is personal attacks and untruths.

a total boob, and dishonest at that

a total boob, and dishonest at that

Posted by: papajim | Jan 11, 2019 8:38:06 PM

So now you are down to just name calling.

name calling?
Posted by: Just the truth | Jan 11, 2019

Nope, just telling the truth.

name calling?
Posted by: Just the truth | Jan 11, 2019
Nope, just telling the truth.

Posted by: papajim | Jan 12, 2019 4:58:22 AM

Wrong again just name calling because you have no facts.
Name calling is associated with lower intelligence.

a total boob, and dishonest

Twirling began with men in the military and became popular in the 1940s during World War II. Drum majors would spin maces — long staffs with a ball at the top. Over time, however, the mace evolved into a shorter, lighter baton with rubber instead of metal ends. Thus, it became easier to wield and would hurt less if it hit you in the head. But in terms of the sport’s gender switch, it’s a chicken-and-egg situation: Did women enter and then the baton developed, or did the technology of the baton improve allowing women to enter? I tend to think it’s the former.

Papajim
" Way to go Robert. If the facts don't fit just make 'em up."
Would be nice if you could understand what the Wikipedia article said. Your comprehension levels are pretty low



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