Tuesday, 12 July 2016

First turbine truck to bow in 3 years

For the second time this year and only the fourth time in 19 months, demand for Class 8 trucks in the US rose faster than the supply. However, new generation hybrid turbine trucks are unlikely to fill the gap anytime soon.
The Class 8 supply and demand figures come from the most recent ACT For-Hire Trucking Index from ACT Research.
Steve Tam, of ACT, noted that the balance between supply and demand is still at the mercy of the widespread macro-inventory overhang.
"This is only the second time in 10 months that freight volumes showed any meaningful increase. Time will tell whether this is the beginning of a trend or a temporary or transient anomaly," he said.

One thing is for certain, the arrival of turbine-powered Class 8 tracks (above) will not happen quickly to take advantage of the imbalance.
Added to which there is scepticism the new turbine hybrid Class 8 tractor are unlikely to make a big impact in North America, a region deeply rooted in conservative attitudes towards trucking.
According to Nikola Motor Company its first hybrid truck will not be delivered to its customer for another 36 months from now.
The Salt Lake City company has also yet to announce also its manufacturing locations. So there is much to do before tests of the first vehicle are set to begin in 24 months' time.
Production is set to begin in 2019 with "the number being determined by the size of the factory". Nikola is expected to announce the production line "sometime next year" together with the quantities coming off the production line.
"We are bookedout years ahead with all of our reservations so we will build them as fast as we can," added the company's spokesperson.
The Utah-based company is reticent also about revealing details of the turbine which is just one of the technical features of the Zero One hybrid truck.
When asked if the turbine used a heat exchanger to extract heat from the turbine exhaust to plough back into the outlet from the compressor in order to improve specific fuel consumption, the spokesperson said:  "The turbines has been built, yes. But we cannot disclose the workings of the turbine."
"We have not disclosed the progress of the project and won't until we launch on December 2, 2016," the spokesperson added.
It is understood the company has built a prototype, according to sources, but the spokesperson pointed to some hills that have to be climbed.
"First we have to go through all the Federal Government's mandated testing and regulations for the US and Canada," the spokesperson added.
                                    Salutory lessons of history
All of which means that the froth generated recently by Nikola Motor Company has time to subside before the next wave of public activity
This froth has been seen before. In August 1967 (nearly 50 years ago) the board of British Leyland Motor Corporation in the UK gave authority for a new company to be set up to design and build a gas turbine engine for a commercial vehicle. That company was called Leyland Gas Turbines Ltd. And with it a 32-ton articulated heavy commercial vehicle would be powered by a 350 bhp gas turbine.
This gas turbine was among the most advanced in the world, making use of two Corning Glass's Cercor ceramic heat exchangers in an attempt to bring fuel economy within shouting distance of that which could be achieved by diesel engines of the day.
The results of that pioneering work of 50 years ago, not to mention the R&D work of Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Fiat SpA, Daimler AG, Mack and others can be judged by the number of gas turbine trucks on roads in North America and Europe where most of the work was carried out.

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