The truck


In times like this with lots of focus on global warming the transport sector has had much attention because of its large consumption of fossil fuel and emission of CO2, noise and particles. This applies both for trucks and trailer trucks as well as cars. Is there a valid reason for the criticism concerning large emissions and is there potential for large improvements? I have in this article studied the large vehicles.


Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot was a French inventor believed to have built the first self-propelled mechanical vehicle or automobile. A miniature version of his three-wheeled steam driven vehicle ran for the first time in 1769. However, steam trucks were not common until the mid-1800s. The roads of the time, built for horse and carriages, limited the distance driven with these vehicles to very short hauls, usually with goods from a factory to the nearest railway station or harbor. The first semi-trailer appeared in 1881, towed by a De Dion steam tractor. Steam- powered trucks were sold in France and the United States until the eve of World War I, and the beginning of World War II in the United Kingdom. In 1895 Karl Benz designed and built the first truck in history using the internal combustion engine.

Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot steam driven wagon. Fardier de Cugnot, modell of 1771.
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot steam driven wagon. Fardier de Cugnot, modell of 1771.

What is wrong with the trucks and what can be done better?

After a close study of the entire technical solution used by ”all truck manufacturers”, my opinion about what is wrong can be summed up like this: The gear boxes.

Complete continuous gear boxes must inserted and step gear boxes must removed

  1. The trucks must lessen the fuel consumption
  2. The present trucks use far too much fuel. Fortunately the governments in many countries, including the USA have seen that, and now demand 50 % fuel reduction on all trucks from 2030. That is necessary when the producers do not care. It would have been easy for them to reduce the consumption between 50 and 80 % already if they would have had interest in directing their efforts on complete continuous gear boxes in their trucks.
    The torque is without significance as a result of using complete continuous gear boxes. You get considerably less diesel consumption and engine wear because the engine only revolves with the necessary speed to get the power needed. Among other things it is sad to hear all trucks and trailer trucks that have to race the engine only to maintain the speed when the same speed could be maintained by higher gear ratio and low engine speed. It is for sure not good for the engine. Besides, the fuel that the engine use extra each year can sum up to 100 thousand dollars. Money that else had been pure net profit. Can you as a truck owner really afford that?

  3. The trucks must reduce the CO2-emissions and the particle emissions
  4. This is directly related to the consumption. All consumption of fuel appears of course as emission. When the fuel consumption is reduced with 50 – 80 %, the CO2-emission will also be reduced with 50 – 80 %, but the particle emission will be reduced considerably more. Why is this? When the truck has complete continuous gear box and the engine and the gear ratio are controlled absolutely correct at all time, the engine will have a speed and a load that gives correct pressure and temperature in the cylinders. The combustion of the diesel is correct at all times and therefore the entire amount of diesel will get completely burnt.
    With the present step gear boxes, the engines will in real life newer run optimally. As an example, when you run fast with low load (which is most of the time) the pressure in the cylinders will be to low to get optimum combustion. Thus the ignition- and combustion temperature is to low and much of the diesel get transformed to the very unhealthy carbon particles, that can result in heart and brain diseases and mort for people that get the particles into their lungs and further into their blood. From diesel generators it is known that if a diesel engine run at lower load than 70 % for a longer period, it will get clogged by soot. If you use a complete continuous gear box with a large variable ratio, you can increase the gear ratio so that you can lower the engine speed. Thereby you can keep the combustion pressure high most of the time and these dangerous particles will not be created. It is even worse when you change from one gear to another on trucks with step gear boxes. Then the engine runs without load, and most of the diesel creates these noxious soot particles. When you know how many gear changes you must execute to get the truck or long haul truck up in speed, you understand that this sums up to much unhealthy particle dust. What will happen when the trucks have complete continuous gear boxes? Well, this problem disappears.
    Because I have invented such a complete continuous gear box (described on the web I contacted many of the largest truck manufacturers and pointed out the importance of taking complete continuous gear boxes in use. Through their answers it was clear that they obviously had very little interest in that. Probably because they did not care and think that it is much easier to just continue to produce trucks as they do today. They can do that as long as you customers or the governments do not claim for better solutions.

  5. Far too much noise
  6. One of the worst nuisances today both in cities, in densely populated areas and along large roads is the noise from trucks and trailer trucks. Every time one of these vehicles shall start or gear you will hear a loud engine roar, and along large freeways these engines howl on high rpm to maintain high speed because the gear ratio is so low. This is really bad for many people and it is difficult to get protection from it. When we get complete continuous gear boxes, these problems will almost disappear completely, and since the engine physically will have smaller dimensions, we can isolate away the remaining noise. What type of people is it that leads the present truck factories when they can cause innocent people these noise nuisances without seemingly to bother about it? Don’t they possess empathy? I think it is in due time for the politicians to give directions and regulations for maximum noise levels that can be accepted from trucks, because the manufacturers have had all the time in the world to do this voluntarily.

  7. Shoulder, hip and knee injuries strike the drivers
  8. One condition that probably will accelerate the change from step gear boxes to complete continuous gear boxes is all the strain injuries that cause the drivers harm. Several hundreds clutch-ins and gear changes every day destroy the joints in shoulders, hips and knees. As a result many drivers are often off sick and they are incapable of continuing in their occupation to retirement age. Now we are told that more and more drivers bring suits for damages for these strain injuries. I hope that maybe this will get truck manufacturers to wish to offer complete continuous gear boxes, because it is for sure not all trailer truck owners that appreciate million dollar claims for compensations against them or the business because of this, and the day these gear boxes are offered it is no longer any excuse for continuing with the old fashioned boxes. Through the usage of computer controlled engines and complete continuous gear boxes this problem will disappear completely.

  9. All too large and expensive engines
  10. If a long haul truck with total weight of 50 metric tons (110 000 lbs) became equipped with a computer controlled complete automatic gear box and 440 kW (600hk) engine, it could then accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 96 km/h) in 40 seconds. That is that the maximum time you can load a truck engine continuously with maximum load each time is 40 seconds. The rest of the time you will load the engine with much lower power. This is worth to keep in mind when you think of engines in trucks and long haul trucks and advantages with complete continuous gear boxes. Because you do not need to think about torque when using a complete continuous gear box, the engine can be dimensioned only from the trailer truck weight and acceleration. That will reduce the need for engine volume to a great extent and thus both the fuel consumption and the engine cost. Today diesel engines are delivered with 75 kW (100 hp) per liter engine volume. In order to get the huge torque needed for the present step gear boxes the present trucks are delivered with 16 liters engines when you want  440 kW (600 hp) in stead of the 6 liters engine you really needed. It is a severe gap between these engines volume sizes. A gap that means that you can save 50 to 80 % of the fuel consumption compared with present trucks. This will for a long haul truck with many man-hours represent up to as much as hundred-thousand dollars in saved fuel expenses every year. Just think how much the savings would be. Can you really afford not to save this? And all the extra environmental damaging emissions the present trucks represents. Do you really want to continue with that? Present trucks have way too high engine price. If you can use a 6 – 8 liters engine in stead of a 16 liters engine the engine price will be halved. Can you really afford to pay so much more for the truck than necessary? The trucks are today far too heavy, and therefore you can carry less cargo, i.e. enormous amounts of lost income that will sum up to huge amounts. With the present manual or automatic gear boxes which all are step gear boxes you will accelerate much slower because the engine is clutched out of efficient work so much of the time and because of gear shifting and incorrect gear ratios. The engines in the present trucks  will not the most of the time have optimal speed because you practically never have correct gear ratio.

  11. Better and safer working environment
  12. The drivers can concentrate entirely on the traffic, because they do not need to think about the gear changes or if the engine runs with correct rpm. You do not need to plan for the correct gear to use when you are in the beginning of an uphill or a downhill road, because the complete continuous gear box will be optimally adjusted all the time. You only decide the speed you want to drive and the computer does the rest completely optimally. When passing it is never need for clutching or gear changes. Therefore passing will be much faster and much safer and with no need for any thoughts of gear changes. Gear shift lever is completely superfluous with complete continuous gear box. You only decide the speed and the computer optimizes the engine rpm and the gear ratio continuously so that the fuel consumption, emission and engine wear are minimized all the time. The engine noise can be maximally muffled because it is unnecessary to hear if the engine runs optimally, because that is taken care of by the computer..
    You accelerate the truck faster entirely without stress. The result is much better working environment for the truck drivers, and much better pass ability. Besides, it will be an ideal solution because it will be natural to equip all trucks with cruise control with distance control to the vehicle ahead. Less pile-up crashes. The brakes will be used much less because most of the braking will be done through the engine braking and then the brakes are less exposed to wear.


”We can not accept this because then workplaces will get lost.” Have you heard it before? Always when directions from politicians or others about changes to save the environment, reduce pollutions, reduce accidents etc. comes this statement comes nearly unisons from business leaders with grave look. And to my great and increasingly surprise the industry fight against improving their products. Same story repeated, again and again. Politicians and other propose changes, the business leaders say that then workplaces will get lost and the industry is spared from the claims much easier. Every time. It is a bit strange that if we now, for instance, must change the entire fleet of cars faster, with cars with new technology that emits 50 – 80 % less CO2 than the cars we have today, it will end up in less working places. It means that if we lots of years ahead must produce much more trucks and cars than now, the existing cars must be recovered, new materials and production machines must be made, new and larger production and development facilities must be built, then it will be less workplaces? It must almost only be business leaders for large companies that do not understand that this is wrong so why do you politicians accept this bluff every time? I wonder where these business leaders were during math lessons. Also historically you can see that what these business leaders say is wrong. Ever since the youth of industry with Spinning Jenny to the mobile phones new technologies we have always seen the same. It ends up in MORE workplaces, not fewer and more prosperity for more people. How much longer shall the politicians and others be fooled by this bluff that both logically and historically always has proven to be wrong? Next time these business leaders draw up this allegation I think you should demand that they prove this allegation both mathematic logically and historically. Such documentation should be the minimum requirement from these leaders before they get away with the statement “that we cannot accept because then workplaces will get lost”.


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© Tron-Halvard Fladby/ 2007.08.29