The New Generation of Smart Integrated Powertrains

Smart integrated PowertrainCustomization, fuel efficiency and cleaner emissions are the primary goals of the trucking industry as it reaches new technological heights in performance and reliability. Reinforced head and blocks, and state-of-the-art aerodynamics combine to improve fuel efficiency, achieve maximum torque, enhance safety and reduce emissions.

Several manufacturers stand out at the vanguard of these new technologies. Among them, Cummins with their X15 Performance and Efficiency Engine Series, Volvo’s XE Package, Kenworth’s Advantage, and Peterbilt’s EPIQ/APEX. The following are some of the exciting new technologies incorporated into these manufacturers’ 2017 lines:

  • Smart Powertrain on-board & remote diagnostics
  • Upgraded high-flow air systems
  • Electronic stability controls (ESC)
  • Automatic emergency braking systems (AEB)
  • Smart cruise control with GPS and mapping systems
  • Adaptive transmission gears
  • Tire pressure monitoring with real-time pressure and temperature information
  • Aerodynamic body elements
  • Impressive clean air emission controls
  • Longer maintenance intervals

The integrated powertrains incorporate remote telematics (long-distance transmission of computerized information) with Connected Calibrations™ and Over-the-Air (OTA) engine customization, allowing the engine and transmission to share critical data to determine the torque required for the various driving demands. Vehicle weight, engine torque, grade and throttle position information is analyzed to improve shifting.


Some systems control fuel usage with an electronic speed limiter and an engine idle shutdown software, nearly eliminating fuel waste during idling conditions. These idle shutdown systems are integral to the engine’s idle management system. Ultra-high fuel injection pressures, up to 35,000 psi, deliver finer atomization for a more complete and cleaner burn.

Other manufacturers achieve better fuel economy using the Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT) to supercharge the engine braking system for high retarding horsepower at low engine RPM. This type of system is integral to the powertrain and, with the push of a button, holds the truck at a steady speed during downgrade driving conditions.

Emission control developments complement the smart powertrains to keep them eco-friendly. New selective catalyst reduction (SCR) passive regeneration systems utilize oxides of nitrogen (NOx) to regenerate the soot and produce a pollutant reduction of 99 percent from untreated levels. The process eliminates the need to inject diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) into the diesel particulate filter (DPF) to oxidize the accumulated soot.

Reducing EGR results in elevated NOx emissions, and by increasing the concentration of NOx flowing into the hot exhaust, the system allows for complete passive regeneration of the DPF, thus eliminating the need to monitor DPF regeneration status.


Other features include SmartTorque, SmartCoast™ predictive cruise control, 10-speed transmissions, and fuel efficient axles. SmartCoast and predictive cruise control systems utilize the vehicle’s GPS position and the onboard map database to “see” the road over a mile ahead, and maximize the truck’s kinetic energy for optimal vehicle speed when approaching hills. In-dash driver performance centers provide real-time MPG numbers for fuel economy feedback on-demand. These technologies, paired with state-of-the-art aerodynamics, and the convenience and savings of longer maintenance intervals, are sure to revolutionize and pave the way for the future of the trucking industry.

Technicians nowadays undergo continuous training on the latest computerized systems and emission controls. Data interpretation, advanced diagnostics, and mechanical skills are a must to service the new smart powertrain systems.

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