TPI, Navistar to develop composite frames for Class 8 trucks
TPI Composites, Inc., (TPI), an Arizona-based manufacturer of wind blades for the clean energy market, has entered into an agreement with Navistar, Inc. to design and develop a Class 8 truck comprised of a composite tractor and frame rails.
This collaborative development project is being entered into in connection with Navistar’s recent award under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Super Truck II investment program, which is designed to promote fuel efficiency in commercial vehicles.
“We are excited about the opportunity to design, develop and validate the use of composite materials and technologies in commercial vehicles in a cost effective and high-volume manufacturing environment,” said Steve Lockard, President and CEO of TPI.
With 80% of all goods in the United States transported by Class 8 trucks, there is a significant opportunity to improve the freight efficiency of trucks. Incorporating composite materials into a Class 8 truck structure could offer multiple performance advantages compared to traditional metals in terms of weight savings, reduced part count, and non-corrosion properties.
TPI and Navistar are targeting 30% plus reduction in the weight of a Class 8 truck by replacing traditional metals with composite materials to enhance the freight efficiency.
It’s worth noting that TPI operates three manufacturing facilities in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua and is about to open a fourth one in the state of Tamaulipas, while Navistar’s largest assembly plant worldwide is located in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon. Although, it doesn’t necessarily mean that any research and development of composite frames will take place in Mexican soil.