A study by global consulting firm Frost & Sullivan projects that the average displacement for Class 8 truck engines is going to shrink anywhere from 2% to 3% by 2018 as OEMs and fleets alike seek ways to improve fuel economy and payload capacity simultaneously for tractor trailers.
However, reports Fleet Owner, Sandeep Kar, global director of commercial vehicle research for Frost & Sullivan, stressed that the power density of Class 8 engines will actually increase significantly – some 6% to 8% – over the next six years even as they shrink in size; providing in many cases an opportunity, in his words, for fleets “to have their cake and eat it too.”
“What we’re finding is that criteria such as total cost of operation [TCO] are becoming more important to fleets in the face of rising fuel prices,” Kar told Fleet Owner. “The upfront purchase price and total lifecycle costs of smaller engines are lower, while fuel economy is better.”
The key, however, is that power isn’t necessarily lost in the transition to smaller engines anymore, he explained, meaning fleets don’t necessarily have to sacrifice performance to gain a better TCO position. And it’s the ability to retain power density that’s getting more fleets to consider “downsizing” their truck engines, Kar said.
Based on its research, Frost & Sullivan projects that average Class 8 truck engine displacement will fall to between 13.4 and 13.7 liters by 2018, down from an average range of 13.7 to 14.1 liters back in 2011. Conversely, average horsepower will climb to between 425 and 540 by 2018, compared to a range of 400 to 520 back in 2011. Torque will also jump as well, increasing to between 1,300 and 1,750 ft.-lbs. on average compared to between 1,250 and 1,650 ft.-lbs. averaged in 2011.