You can put up a good argument that fuel mileage starts at the top of the company. The company can buy the latest and greatest trucks. They can spec them with the best engines and gearing ratios to maximize fuel mileage. Then they can use anti – idling equipment such as the park smart system. To me every truck should come with some sort of anti idling equipment. Living and running up north I ran just a bunk heater for years. Now, I am spoiled by my battery powered APU, and I am not going back. Buying fuel efficient equipment sends a signal to drivers that the company is serious about MPG.
Trailers matter. When a company starts setting up their trailers with skirts and tails, it shows that they are invested in fuel mileage. Auto inflating systems can help keep trailer tires properly inflated. This reduces rolling resistance. Wide based singles can also reduce rolling resistance as well as weight. As with many things, nothing happens in a vacuum. Wide based singles can increase total tire cost. The question is – Is the cost justified in fuel savings? The point is to lower your real cost of ownership. Where is the break even point. Always do the math. A company with a 4:1 trailer to tractor ratio will not get the same ROI as a one truck one trailer owner operator.
Some will argue that the driver is the most important factor in MPG. I know that I have seen engine reports where similarly equipment hauling like freight can get wide variances on MPG. The only difference is the driver. Switch the drivers and the results will stay with the drivers, not the equipment. That would certainly indicate to me that it is the driver making the difference.
Even the best drivers can't make silk from a pig. In order to get the best MPG they need the best equipment. For the best equipment to get the best MPG, they need the best drivers. So, where does improved fuel mileage begin? To me improving fuel mileage is circular. Maximizing fuel mileage requires everyone and everything working together.
Basic economics teaches us that people tend to act in their own best interest. Companies want to lower their real cost of ownership and maximize their profitability. Drivers want to maximize their income. The idea is to synchronize the two. Invest in equipment. Invest in the driver. Train the driver how to properly use the equipment. Give incentives to the driver to maximize fuel mileage.
So, where does fuel mileage being? The same place a circle does. It is hard to tell. Everyone needs to work together. Which interestingly enough is simplest for the one truck owner operator.