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John Petersen is the executive vice president and chief financial officer of ePower Engine Systems, Inc., a Kentucky-based enterprise that has developed, built and demonstrated an engine-dominant diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain for long-haul heavy trucks that promises fuel savings of 30 to 40... More
My company:
Fefer Petersen & Co.
My blog:
ipo-law.com
  • Data On Class 8 Tractor-Trailer Combination Weights 11 comments
    Oct 17, 2013 4:05 PM

    I've had a number of readers ask me what the typical tractor-trailer combination truck weighs. The easy answer is "there is no easy answer" because the variability is huge. Luckily I recently found data from Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a 2008 survey of 11,365 trucks in 15 states. ORNL graphed the weight distribution as follows.

    (click to enlarge)

    The EPA estimates the typical weight of an unladen Class 8 tractor-trailer combination is on the order of 35,000 pounds while payloads typically max out at about 40,000 pounds. So while 80,000 pounds is the load limit for Class 8 trucks, well over 90% of the tractor-trailers weigh in at less than 73,000 pounds.

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  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2791) | Send Message
     
    John
    Some states have significantly higher weights limits than 80,000 and will need to be evaluated accordingly.

     

    I have read that Michigan has the highest weight limit.

     

    MICHIGAN’S TRUCK-WEIGHT LAW And TRUCK-USER FEES
    http://1.usa.gov/1d0tjL9
    <
    Since 1982, federal law has required all states to allow gross vehicle weights of 80,000 pounds on the Interstate system and other designated highways, and for certain distances off these highways en route to terminals. These 80,000 pounds are typically spread over five axles, including a three-axle tractor with a tandem-axle semi-trailer—the familiar “eighteen-wheeler.” Michigan and several other states allow gross vehicle weights greater than 80,000 pounds, when spread over more than five axles. These weight laws are allowable under “grandfather clauses” in federal law, but if these laws are repealed, they may not be re-enacted. Axle Loadings and Michigan Law Michigan’s truck-weight law is designed to control axle loads instead of gross vehicle weight. Research conducted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and other organizations, has shown that pavement damage is directly related to axle loadings, not gross vehicle weight. Michigan limits the weight allowed on individual axles, depending upon the spacing between them, with a maximum of eleven axles.
    The maximum gross vehicle weight allowed on a “federal-weight-law truck” is 80,000 pounds, with four of its five axles carrying 17,000 pounds each and the steering axle carrying 12,000 pounds. The maximum allowable gross vehicle weight on the heaviest “Michigan-weight-law-t... is 164,000 pounds, which can only be achieved by use of eleven properly-spaced axles. Most of these axles carry only 13,000 pounds each. truck” is 164,000 pounds, which can only be achieved by use of eleven properly spaced axles. Most of these axles carry only 13,000 pounds each. The alternative to a single Michigan combination carrying 160,000 lbs. on 11 axles is two standard trucks carrying 160,000 lbs. on 10 axles. Pavement research has shown that these two smaller trucks actually cause about 60 per cent more pavement damage than does the single heavier truck, because of their higher axle loadings and the extra weight of an additional tractor at about ten tons
    <
    You might want to look at the chart on pg 2. the section is titled:
    Population of Trucks by Weight
    <
    Of the non-IRP plates, 6,385 were registered to carry over 80,000 pounds, and 2,649 were registered to carry over 145,000 pounds. Only 6% of trucks registered in Michigan actually can be heavier than Inter-state-standard “eighteen wheelers.”
    <
    17 Oct 2013, 08:14 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29569) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » We are not trying to please all fleet operators. We'll be more than happy serving the majority and letting operators with special needs make other choices.
    17 Oct 2013, 10:01 PM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2791) | Send Message
     
    JP
    I wouldn't write it off without finding out.
    Michigan is mostly a flat state and mostly low hills.
    It's quite possible ePower could handle it.
    I don't know which other states have higher load limits or obviously what their terrain is.
    Still put it on your, someday we'll give it a try list, it could be good news.
    19 Oct 2013, 07:20 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29569) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » We're not writing off anything. We're also facing a big enough challenge reaching our goal of 80,000 pounds at 65 mph and 10 mpg. There's no point in raising the bar until we've cleared the challenges we face today.
    19 Oct 2013, 07:22 PM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2791) | Send Message
     
    JP
    True enough.
    19 Oct 2013, 07:36 PM Reply Like
  • D. McHattie
    , contributor
    Comments (1826) | Send Message
     
    I used to specialize in a Transportation Planning and Execution software application. The software loaded in orders from various facilities to various locations and bundled them together into shipments.

     

    My memory is rusty but I believe what we called 'TL' or 'Truckload' was 48,000 lbs. That was the maximum we would EVER load a truck so it was almost always less.

     

    And we counted as clients the 2 largest retailers in North America at the time as well as the #2 beverage-maker. We were a tier 1 vendor and that is how we did it.

     

    Just saying the ePower system should be plenty powerful for the vast majority of trucks.

     

    D

     

    PS: I'm still here
    18 Oct 2013, 09:15 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29569) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » By the time you include 20,000 pounds for a tractor and 15,000 pounds for a trailer, a 48,000 pound load would put most tractor-trailer combinations overweight. The EPA's SmartWay Program says the average payload weight for Class 8A is 9 tons while the average payload weight for Class 8B is 20 tons.
    18 Oct 2013, 09:23 PM Reply Like
  • colodude
    , contributor
    Comments (219) | Send Message
     
    Hi John, this is quite a change of pace for you, eh? I'm looking forward to learning about the side of trucking and ePower's attempts to build a robust market for the AXPW-boosted batteries. Indeed, the EPA's truck weight distribution function is an encouraging piece of data.
    24 Oct 2013, 03:13 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29569) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » What the data does is help clarify the market sweet spots. While it's easy to worry "it won't be good enough if it can't haul the legal limit of 80,000 pounds," the data shows that 92% of gross combination weights are under 73,000 pounds and 55% are under 55,000 pounds.

     

    It shows a much more approachable market than the load limit does.
    24 Oct 2013, 03:28 PM Reply Like
  • ARGE
    , contributor
    Comments (730) | Send Message
     
    I was doing a little research on the NS999 and came across something you wrote a while back:
    http://bit.ly/HqAcrW
    and could not help but think of the similarities between the ePower's trucks and the Green Goat...I am surprised no one has put PcBs in one of the 55 GGs made. How much would a used $750,000 locomotive cost anyways? $75K, $100k in PcBs, some blue paint and paper Mâché you have yourself a nice Thomas day out.
    30 Oct 2013, 04:46 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29569) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » We'd need to check with DRich, but I think the GG was battery dominant rather than engine dominant.

     

    In a battery-dominant system all power for the traction motor comes from the batteries and the genset is little more than a battery charger.

     

    In an engine-dominant system like ePower's, the genset provides the principal power for the drive motors and the batteries pitch in for acceleration and hill climbing.
    30 Oct 2013, 05:06 PM Reply Like
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