The worst thing for your fuel economy is to pull a big rectangular box down the highway. While this may be the best shape for hauling goods, it is the worst for aerodynamics. In fact, 65% of the energy used to pull a trailer is used to overcome the effects of aerodynamic drag. While the trucking industry has been relatively slow to adopt aerodynamics as a whole, the most competitive fleets are reaping the benefits of improved trailer aerodynamics with savings of over 15%. This equates to thousands of dollars per day for larger fleets, and a quick ROI for smaller fleets and owner-operators.
Choosing which aerodynamic technology to implement can be confusing and complicated as there are now dozens of emerging companies offering very similar products. Customers should be sure to do their homework to make sure the product is:
- Smartway Verified
- SAE Tested
Here are some key questions to ask when evaluating fuel-saving aerodynamic technologies:
- How long has product been on the market?
- How many have been sold to date?
- Which fleets have already tested and implemented the product? i.e.: Ask to speak directly to current ‘Aero Customers’ and hear feedback
- What are your SAE-tested, fuel-saving results i.e.: Ask for SAE J1321 verified third-party test results
- How durable is the aerodynamic equipment?
- What is the product’s ROI?
|Team Run Smart Pro Henry Albert's trailer with the Trailer Tail technology installed.
Ideally, you’ll find a durable product with a quick ROI that has been SAE tested and installed by top trucking fleets. While skirts are now a popular option to improve fuel efficiency by 4-5%, you should consider installing both a skirt and rear-drag aerodynamic technology for maximum trailer efficiency. It is important to think about the lifespan of the product and the warranty offered. For example, the Transtex MFS (maximum flex) side skirts offer the industry’s longest skirt warranty of seven years. ATDynamics leads the market in rear-drag aerodynamics with TrailerTail®, which is proven to improve fuel efficiency by over 6% at highway speeds. When combined with skirts, TrailerTail® will improve fuel efficiency by over 10-12%. This equates to an ROI ranging from 6 to 18 months depending on annual mileage or about 6 cents per mile in savings. With aerodynamics, the largest variable to consider is mileage and speed. Since fuel efficiency best practice is to reduce speeds, the more miles you travel at highway speeds, the more you will benefit from aerodynamic improvements. Most aerodynamic technologies will pay off relatively quickly so it’s really a matter of evaluating the technology based on durability, performance and costs to maintain the system.
Finally, ask the aerodynamics supplier you are considering if they will offer a risk-free trial with a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the product’s performance. With fuel prices expected to continue to rise in the future, you should consider the benefits of aerodynamics now before your competitors do.