What does the future of big rig fuel efficiency look like? The answers may be closer than we think — if your fleet is willing to invest in some savvy trucking technologies.
Today, the average miles per gallon (mpg) of diesel fuel extracted by a trucking fleet is a dismal 6.4 mpg. As an industry that spends its livelihood on the road, consuming 38 billion gallons of diesel fuel per year to transport America’s goods, it’s time that number increased. And, according to the annual NACFE Fleet Fuel Study (considered “the most comprehensive study of Class 8 fuel efficiency adoption ever created”), it’s finally starting to. In fact, the report shows that many fleets are starting to log better than 7.6 mpg, with a few new trucks reaching 9 mpg, and some hyper mpg fleets achieving almost 10 mpg. In September 2017, there was even a cross-country truck show — Run on Less — in which three midsize fleets and owner-operators demonstrated that real trucks, hauling real freight, on real routes could use different advancements to achieve greater miles per gallon ratings — even 9 miles per gallon — with current technologies.
If you’re thinking what we are — those advances in big rig fuel efficiency amount to significant savings for drivers and fleet owners! For instance, “at $2.50 a gallon, each 1 percent in fuel savings allows fleets to save about $400 per truck. Depending on the size of your fleet, that can add up to a pretty big number.” The best news is, these savings are happening today, thanks to a variety of technologies and adaptations in driving habits.
Existing and emerging technologies — and the combination of both — are the current key to increasing a fleet’s fuel efficiency. Keep in mind that what works for one fleet may not work for the other; however, the following categories of technology were used in the Run on Less demonstrations and hold Trucking Efficiency Confidence Reports:
- Idle Reduction
- Tires and Rolling Resistance
- Tractor Aerodynamics
- Trailer Aerodynamics
- Operational Practices
These categories include a range of fuel efficiency technologies, including these examples:
- Using newer versions of 6x2 axles (where some of the traction issues have been addressed) to improve fuel efficiency up to 2.5% and reduce tire wear.
- Maintaining proper tire pressure inflation — to increase fuel efficiency, decrease tire wear, and reduce rolling resistance — with tire pressure monitors or systems that automatically inflate tires with low pressure.
- Reducing aerodynamic drag with a combination of trailer and tractor aerodynamic methods: nose cones, skirts, underbody devices, tails, sealing the tractor/trailer gap, closing or managing the air along the underbody, and adding a boat tail.
To learn more about the 7 categories and their fuel efficient strategies for trucks — and the ones that might be best for your truck or fleet — be sure to visit Trucking Efficiency.
If your fleet is hovering around that 6.4 mpg average, we hope that this blog has shown you that big rig fuel efficiency isn’t only on the horizon, it’s here. These truck-savvy technologies are ready and waiting to help your fleet save money, to help the environment (less diesel consumption!), and improve the industry of trucking itself. Even if you start slowly — introducing a new technology each quarter or each year — the savings will eventually add up. Be sure to take a look at how you can improve your fleets fuel economy right now — and always stay tuned for each and every great trucking technology intended to help your fleet succeed.