The Challenge…

…Is ‘Saving Fuel’. Or is it ‘Saving the Planet’?

In our modern world a mixture of economic and environmental pressures apply to all forms of transport. In the 1950’s deaths in London due to air pollution reached an unacceptable high and forced the introduction of the clean air act. Since then many more laws governing pollution have been introduced either locally or through the EU resulting in a rebirth of nature in our cities. Apart from the decline in the Sparrow and Starling populations which is probably more related to nest site availability than pollution, many species are now much more common and there are bird and insect newcomers to the garden every year. So, the inference has to be that the clean air act and subsequent legislation have worked to improve the environment.

Those changes to the laws on a local level may well soon bite me – I run a diesel car and because of the NOx and particulates issued by diesels these are next on the agenda for the Mayor of London. As the car is now 16 years old I guess it is time it went to pasture although it drives fine and is very fuel efficient in the type of use I put it through – a 2ltr turbo-charged diesel in a Peugeot 206 is never going to be overworked 😉 So I have to be looking at a new vehicle and possibly new technology – hybrid, stop-start, or electric? Those are the questions that will be in the forefront of my real-world thoughts over the next few months.

But in Truck Sim I do strive for good fuel efficiency in the way I drive. And, since starting driving in game, I’ve become very aware of the battle between the truck / engine manufacturers to reduce the cost of trucking. Research shows all the engine manufacturers claiming improvements in their fuel consumption. Then you read the feedback from truckers and find that maybe the improvement wasn’t as stated or has been bought through reduced reliability. The first thing that struck me was the mpg expectations from drivers and companies and how they compared in game. I was running the PACCAR MX-13 485HP engine in my Kenworth W900. The best I’ve achieved since making sure the game was running realistic fuel consumption was 7.14mpg on a medium run mainly on Interstates. I just changed out the engine for a Detroit Diesel Series 60 515HP and achieved a 7.11mpg figure in similar circumstances. But it’s fair to say that other runs with the MX-13 were less inspiring at around 5.7mpg.

I’ve quoted before that companies were getting mid 6’s to mid 7’s with the MX-13 and therefore I have been working on my driving technique. There’s a lot of information on the web about how to get the best from your truck engine – less for car drivers I suspect. So I learn that revs should never exceed 2000 except on change-down for engine braking, ideal change-up is around 1400rpm and peak torque is usually from 1000-1400rpm. These are the areas that I should aim at and it’s interesting to note that these are not that different to my car.

As part of the learning process and directly as a result of reading about engines and drive trains, I wound up looking into the Freightliner Cascadia with the Detroit Diesel engine range. If you read my post about the Freightliner FLB you’ll recall that it didn’t include Detroit engines in the mod. Anyway, there are some fascinating videos about the Cascadia on YouTube and as I wandered through these I stumbled upon a weird comment from a transfer driver moving tractor units to and from points of sale – well it seemed weird at the time… “Checking the mileage and fuel I’d guess this guy was getting 8mpg from this truck”. Wow, that’s pretty good I thought.

It pushed me down the road of getting the Freightliner Cascadia mod (another from Solaris36) to try out. I have fitted her with a Detroit Diesel DD15 TC engine rated at 475HP. Over the first 4 trips I have averaged over 7mpg with the most recent trip achieving 7.95mpg. That’s quite amazing. Of course, this is only a game / simulation but given the efforts by the game designers and the mod’ers out there to achieve accuracy I’d guess that I’ve just seen a realistic impression of the improvement of the fuel efficiency of the DD15 series over the Series 60 – almost a mile per-gallon. And that’s good for business and for the environment!

7.95mpg achievable - Freightliner Cascadia
7.95mpg achievable – Freightliner Cascadia

ps- this Lady needs a name – idea’s welcome 🙂

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