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21st Century Truck Initiative/Partnership (21CTP)

The 21st Century Truck Initiative was announced on April 21, 2000, and was an Army-led program that intended to improve truck fuel efficiency and reduce operating costs and emissions. The Army was the "central partner" in the Initiative, a federal program aimed at improving truck fuel efficiency, boosting safety, slashing costs and cutting emissions. The 21st Century Truck Initiative program partnered government agencies with industry to develop commercially viable truck and propulsion-systems technology. The US Army's Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command's (TACOM) National Automotive Center (NAC) in Warren, Michigan, was the Department of Defense's and Army's lead agency for the program.

The program was a follow-on effort to the "Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles," which was formed in the early 1990s. PNGV sought to increase automobile efficiency threefold without sacrificing safety or cost. New program partners included the Army, US Departments of Energy and Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the US trucking industry.

The partnership of government and industry sought to significantly increase the fuel efficiency of large trucks. The 21st Century Truck Initiative proposed to triple medium-duty truck fuel economy and double heavy-duty truck fuel economy on a ton-mile basis. The 21st Century Truck Partnership centered on advanced combustion engines and heavy hybrid drives that use renewable fuels. The new technologies in these engines and drives could, at least was suggested, result in heavy truck transportation using dramatically less diesel fuels and throwing off virtually no emissions of NOx or soot. From industry, 16 companies were collaborating on the initiative, including Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) members Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, General Motors, Honeywell, and Eaton.

The US Army's Army After Next (AAN) concept called for a 75% reduction in battlefield petroleum usage, as part of overall goals to make the Army's future logistic operations and infrastructure lighter, less costly, more flexible, and less susceptible to interruption or attack. Reduced petroleum usage was potentially the most significant goal because fuel constituted 70% of the bulk tonnage supplied to military forces when the Initiative was created. Improved fuel economy would reduce the Army's peacetime operating costs. Highly efficient propulsion systems would make large improvements in military truck fuel economy. More improvements were possible through truck structural weight reductions and streamlining. Automated navigation, mission planning, and cargo inventory tools would improve fuel economy by allowing supplies to be delivered with fewer miles driven.

Emerging commercial advancements in propulsion technologies were expected greatly improve vehicle fuel efficiency. The likely technologies were advanced, low heat rejection diesel engines and improved, electronically controlled mechanical transmissions; hybrid electric drive systems, equipped with optimized electrical systems, including "smart" battery management systems, advanced drive motor designs and motor controllers; and diesel fueled, fuel cell power systems. Still, Army ground vehicles could continue to use commercial diesel and JP8 fuels as their primary fuels for many years. However, commercial shifts toward clean diesel fuels, and fuel cells were hoped to eventually lead to adopting "designer" diesel fuels that could also be used in reformer-equipped fuel cell engines.

Batteries in most common hybrid vehicles are continually recharged, meaning these vehicles are not subject to the range limitations common to totally electric vehicles. In the HybriDriveT system, the engine that turned the generator typically was smaller than that in a conventional truck or bus and ran at nearly constant speed, using less fuel, running cleaner, and requiring less maintenance as a result.

Hybrid vehicles are also directly motor-driven, so there is no transmission. The result is faster and smoother acceleration and a vehicle that requires no transmission maintenance. In addition, a "regenerative braking" system reverses the motor's magnetic field during braking to slow the vehicle, generating additional electricity to charge the batteries and reducing brake wear. Such technologies were also intended to be incorporated into future vehicles.

By 2006, the Initiative, by then termed the 21st Century Truck Partnership, included 16 industry partners and 4 government agencies. They were:

  • Industry Partners
    • Allison Transmission
    • BAE SYSTEMS
    • Caterpillar, Inc.
    • Cummins, Inc.
    • DaimlerChrysler Corporation
    • Detroit Diesel Corporation
    • Eaton Corporation
    • Freightliner LLC
    • General Motors Corporation
    • Honeywell, Inc.
    • International Truck & Engine Corporation
    • Mack Trucks, Inc.
    • NovaBUS Oshkosh Truck Corporation
    • PACCAR, Inc.
    • Volvo Trucks North America, Inc.
  • Government Agencies
    • US Department of Defense (represented by the US Army TACOM)
    • US Department of Energy
    • US Department of Transportation
    • US Environmental Protection Agency

    The partnership had, by the end of 2006, outlined 5 categories for development. These were in the areas of Engine Systems, Heavy-Duty Hybrids, Parasitic Losses, Idle Reduction, and Safety. It was the opinion of the Partnership that achievement of those technical goals required the participation of a wide range of organizations within government and industry. Success within the Partnership to achieve safer, cleaner, and more efficient trucks and buses would be a team effort. The research and development categories were designed to identify the key challenges facing the heavy-duty truck industry and outline key areas of research, development, and deployment that the Partnership would concentrate on. Research into these areas was to guidance to policy makers on the direction and focus of the systems approach to RD&D programs.




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