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Navistar SuperTruck demo vehicle CatalIST exceeds DOE freight efficiency goal; 50.3% BTE, path to 55%

Navistar unveiled its innovative SuperTruck demonstration vehicle, CatalIST, which has achieved a freight efficiency improvement of 104% compared to the control vehicle, exceeding the improvement goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the SuperTruck program. In addition, the Navistar vehicle has achieved fuel efficiency of 13 miles per gallon, and demonstrated 50.3% Brake Thermal Efficiency (BTE) and a path towards 55% BTE.

The last three letters of the vehicle’s name, the CatalIST, stand for “International SuperTruck,” referencing the company’s International commercial truck brand. The CatalIST concept underscores the company’s conviction that the innovations achieved through the program will serve as the catalyst for significant improvements in future commercial vehicles.

Mark Stasell, vice president, Product Development pointed to Navistar’s predictive cruise control technology as one example of a significant technical innovation the company achieved through the program. Predictive cruise control looks ahead of the vehicle and recognizes the terrain and continuously calculates the most efficient speed and gear for optimal fuel economy in real time. Unlike conventional predictive cruise technology, the company’s predictive cruise control uses preinstalled GPS maps and the latest commercial route data to make adjustments to cruising speed without the need to pre-drive the route.

Other improvements included:

  • Advanced integration of Navistar N13 Engine utilizing proprietary intelligent controls and high efficiency combustion.

  • Reduction in aerodynamic drag through replacement of cab- and hood-mounted mirrors with a series of cameras and interior-mounted monitors, which also yield equal or better indirect vision for the driver.

  • Reduction in aerodynamic drag through replacement of cab- and hood-mounted mirrors with a series of cameras and interior-mounted monitors, which also yield equal or better indirect vision for the driver.

  • Reduction in aerodynamic drag through replacement of cab- and hood-mounted mirrors with a series of cameras and interior-mounted monitors, which also yield equal or better indirect vision for the driver.

  • A new LED headlamp system that reduces lamp size for a more aerodynamic shape and cuts electrical power requirements by greater than 80 percent, while improving luminous output and light color for improved night-time direct driver vision and reduced driver fatigue.

  • An all-new shape with a sloped windshield and wedged cab for improved aerodynamics. Innovative use of lighter-weight carbon-fiber panels in the upper body, roof headers, back panel, and dash panel.

  • A hybrid front suspension and lightweight rear suspension that leverages lightweight alloys with composite materials, reducing weight and enabling an electronic ride height management system, which provides dynamic ride height and pitch control for improved aerodynamics.

  • Aerodynamic improvements that reduce the trailer’s drag coefficient by more than 30 percent.

The DOE’s SuperTruck program, a five-year-long research and development initiative, focused on improving freight efficiency, a measure of the payload carried while burning less fuel, versus 2009 base model trucks. Its objective was to develop and demonstrate a 50% improvement in overall freight efficiency on a heavy-duty Class 8 tractor-trailer vehicle as measured in ton-miles per gallon of diesel fuel.

New LT Series. Separately, International Truck launched the International LT Series, its new flagship line of Class 8 over-the-road trucks developed through driver centric design and featuring advanced technologies that deliver fuel efficiency, best-in-class uptime and driver appeal.


Based on a careful review of more than 500 points where the driver and truck interact, the highly ergonomic interior of the LT Series includes better elbow room, hip room and leg room. Driver input also led to a smart, well-designed mix of high-tech and traditional features that emphasize driver ease of use.

The redesigned interior features a new premium gauge cluster with a digital driver display that places everything within comfortable reach, while offering drivers real-time monitoring of fuel economy and other important alerts in clear sight. The new display also offers up to 15 customizable digital gauges. In addition, the air horn was relocated back to its traditional, intuitive position over the driver door in response to overwhelming driver feedback.

The same aerodynamic improvements that boosted the LT Series’ fuel efficiency also yielded a four-Sone decrease in wind noise, which eliminates noise harshness for improved driver comfort.

Multiple improvements are designed for improved safety, including standard LED headlamps to improve night vision, a column-mounted gear-shifter that allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road, and a redesigned one-piece side window that affords the driver a clearer line of sight. In addition, the Bendix Wingman Advanced Collision Mitigation system comes standard in the LT Series.

Uptime. The LT Series was designed with the goal of best-in-class uptime, meaning keeping the truck on the road and facilitating quick service when the need arises. To drive improved uptime, International carefully reviewed reliability data and other data collected from OnCommand Connection, the company’s remote diagnostics system, and made multiple enhancements to support increased reliability and serviceability.

Many of the truck’s new features were designed to improve reliability and serviceability, as well as functionality. For example:

  • The new single-canister aftertreatment system is not just 60% smaller and 40% lighter, but is also simplified for quicker servicing.

  • The new LED headlamps and fog lamps not only deliver brighter light and intensity, but also have tough new polycarbonate headlight lenses that protect them against breakage.

  • The cab wiring includes all-new harnessing and an in-cab power distribution module that is inside the truck, away from the elements.

  • All key service points under the hood, inside the cab and around the vehicle are ergonomically designed for easy access and servicing, and many components have been engineered with longer intervals between required maintenance.

Fuel economy. The LT Series features significantly improved aerodynamics and provides fuel efficiency that is 7% better than the company’s most recent fuel economy leader, a 2017 ProStar with the Cummins ISX15 engine.

International has always placed a strong emphasis on industry-leading aerodynamics as a solid foundation for fuel efficiency, and the LT Series delivers 3% improvement in fuel economy due to its aerodynamic benefits alone. Upgraded aerodynamic features on the new International LT Series include an aero-contoured hood, fender, wheel opening and chassis skirts and an aero-enhanced three-piece front bumper, while longer side extenders shorten the trailer gap.

Aerodynamics in the LT Series were fine-tuned using multiple advanced testing methods, including computational fluid dynamics, one-eighth scale and full-size wind tunnel and coast-down testing, to assure that the vehicle would perform well facing winds not just head-on, but also at an angle. In fact, the higher the yaw angle of the wind, the better the LT Series performs against the competition.

Advanced driver assistance. Central to the advances of the International LT Series are advanced driver assistance systems that support safety and efficiency goals and pave the way for additional customer-selected options.

The Bendix Wingman Advanced Collision Mitigation system comes standard with every model in the series, and is also available with the optional Bendix Wingman Fusion and Meritor WABCO OnGuardACTIVE systems.

International’s own predictive cruise control looks ahead of the vehicle and recognizes the terrain and continuously calculates the most efficient speed and gear for optimal fuel economy in real time. Unlike conventional predictive cruise technology, International predictive cruise control uses preinstalled GPS maps and the latest commercial route data to make adjustments to cruising speed without the need to pre-drive the route.

The new electronic control systems also use programmable parameters to optimize efficiency. Driver controls and instrumentation are based on robust industry-standard SAE J1939 electrical architecture, with a new cluster and switches designed to keep drivers focused and maximize uptime.

The LT Series is being launched with the new 2017 Cummins X15 engine, which has HP ratings of up to 500 HP in the efficiency series and up to 565 hp in the performance series. It is also being launched with the new 2017 Navistar N13 engine, which will be available in the spring and has an advanced fuel-efficient 13-liter design that produces up to 475 hp and 1,750 lb.-ft. of torque from a design that is 500 to 600 pounds lighter than traditional big bore engines.



WalMart asked for it, Navistar delivered it.  Now to get it all rolled out.

I've been seeing incremental improvements on the highways.  Skirts on semi-trailers are now commonplace, and I've begun to see collapsible boat-tails on the doors.  It comes bit by bit.

James McLaughlin

13 mpg with what load and at what speed?

Account Deleted

I don’t believe most of those efficiency statements from the old automakers. If they were even remotely true we would see significant improvement in real world mpg but we don’t.

The solution is to do as Tesla and make a fully autonomous BEV semi. That will be zero emission and have lower cost per mile than a fully autonomous oil burner and it will last a million miles without drive train replacement versus 333,000 miles for an oil burner.


Henrik, you have failed to notice that HDVs already last for more than one million miles. Furthermore, a HD-BEV can only carry... batteries... as payload!

Account Deleted

Peter you think conventionally and this is why you don’t get it. We only need a 400kwh battery pack to do 100 miles in a heavy duty truck. 400kwh is 4 of those battery packs that floor the Model S P100D. It will be less than a foot think. So this is a very small battery pack for a heavy duty truck. The reason we only need 100 miles range is that this truck will be fully autonomous. It will drive for 90 min or 80 miles and stop and charge for 40 minutes around the clock 24/7/365. It will have unlimited range because of Tesla’s network of supercharger stations for such heavy duty trucks.

Also do you really believe that an ICE can last as long as an electric motor? There is only one moving part in an electric motor and no pressure or extreme heat from exploding and corrosive chemical fuel. Heavy duty BEVs will easily last 3 times longer than anything possible using ICE. The life of batteries is not a problem either. Lithium titanium batteries are practically impossible to break as they can do 10s of thousands of deep cycles. And 10,000 times 100 miles is a million miles.

The global industry for complex transmissions, ICEs and exhaust systems will be completely gone sometime from 2025 to 2027. All we need for BEVs to take over completely is fully self-driving vehicles and expect the first ones to start commercial service by 2020. That tech will give BEVs indefinite range and zero charge time (if you change vehicle as you go) and it will enable BEVs to benefit fully from its much lower marginal cost per mile driven when compared to ICE.


Batteries do not last as long as ICEs. A HD-BEV cannot transport any payload, only batteries. Batteries cost a fortune. It is that simple. That's why we do not see any HD-BEVs on our roads.


Very near future (2018/2020) 500 Wh/Kg batteries and future (2025/2027) 1000 Wh/Kg batteries with X/thousands cycles will help, but quick charging them may still be a problem.

However, future e-truck drivers (if any are required) may benefit from 30+ minutes coffee/recharge stops every 3 hours or so.

Alternatively, a small on board 100 KW FC could keep the cabin warm and batteries charged and provide 2X to 3X range capabilities.


Peter XX:  batteries don't have to, any more than tires do.  They just have to have a low enough TCOE.

Li-ion appears to be up to 400 Wh/kg already:

Dr. Strange Love

There are risks that have no known cost when a freight company is thinking of committing to any number of heavy duty BE transport vehicles. What will the taxes look like over time?

Account Deleted

Peter batteries are durable. Tesla offers 8 years unlimited mileage warranty on their battery packs and drive train.

In a truck application I think the optimal choise of battery chemistry is the litium titanate type that has 10s of thousands of deep cycles in them see fx Toshiba

Musk has said that 1kwh of lithium battery in terms of energy and raw materials to make them only cost about 80 USD. He thinks that eventually their giga factory will only take 20 USD per kwh to convert those raw materials into finished battery cells. The BEV heavy duty truck will be more expensive up front than a oil burner as that 400kwh battery will cost about 60,000 USD. However, the needed say 500kw electric moter and simple transmission will cost 10 to 15k less than the needed oilburner with complex gear box and transmission. Moreover, there are huge annual savings on fuel as electricity is like half the cost per mile compared to diesel. Just make sure you drive that BEV truck 24/7 and it will be very profitable compared to the oil burner that will need expensive maintenance and expensive fuel.

Account Deleted

I meant complex transmission and exhaust system in the above.


choise = choice

Account Deleted

I should note that Musk since 2015 have aimed to make all Tesla vehicles last 1 million miles without repairs for the battery and the drive train. See fx Previously the engineering objective was 200k miles.

The reason we now need 1 million miles durability is that all of Tesla’s vehicles with be fully self-driving no later than 2020 and that means they will be able to clock 100k miles per year when operated as a Tesla taxi service or for private Tesla owners that simply choose to make their cars available for Tesla’s taxi services when they do not use the vehicles themselves.

SJC I know get mad at myself when I see these errors ;-)

Dr. Strange Love

Self driving vehicles will always be in the shop for Suspension and Wheel repairs. This is a Risk that cannot be quantified right now.


No problem, I have spell checker for every word I type.


Self-driving vehicles will update a real-time map of potholes every time they detect one (either by scanning or by suspension movement).  Once the first one hits an un-scannable pothole (e.g. because it's obscured by snow) all the rest will avoid it.

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