Lede

"Every year the North American trucking industry spends $40 billion too much on their  fuel bill. We can cut this significantly with the right efficiency technologies."

Mike Roeth, NACFE

Confidence Reports currently available for

Two-Truck Platooning


Two-truck platooning is an emerging technology designed to boost fuel economy performance for tractor-trailers engaged in long- and regional-haul highway applications. Platooning combines existing commercial vehicle safety technology with emerging vehicle-to-vehicle communications and autonomous vehicle control technology to electronically “tether” tractor-trailers together in a convoy formation at highway speeds. Once a platoon of trucks is established, the vehicles, safety systems work in unison to draw the trucks together at significantly reduced following distances to overcome each vehicle’s inherent aerodynamic drag.

Tires & Rolling Resistance


The entire weight of the tractor-trailer rides on the tires, generating rolling resistance - and making tires an important area to consider for improving fuel efficiency. Tire manufacturers have improved both the dual configurations for lower rolling resistance and developed single wide tires, which lower the contact area, improving fuel efficiency and providing weight savings.  Aluminum wheels and tire pressure systems improve freight efficiency in the wheel system.  Tire wear and susceptibility to damage should be key considerations when trying to optimize this area of the vehicle.

Idle Reduction


Each year in the United States sleeper tractors burn approximately 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel (8% of total fuel) while idling. This is costly, noisy, dirty and not efficient. A plethora of idle-reduction solutions have emerged including on board diesel and battery units, truck stop electrification, engine start stop, diesel heaters and driver training and incentives to drastically lower idling.  Each, along with other complementary actions, have their pros and cons with respect to emissions, upfront cost, maintenance costs, infrastructure, etc.

Automatic Transmissions


Fleets should expect to see improved fuel economy from automatic transmissions, which have full power shifts and a torque converter to seamlessly transition between gears. They are most valuable in city driving where a significant amount of shifting is required.  Improved driver recruitment and retention are big factors behind many fleet owners’ decision to specify these transmissions over manual transmissions. In addition, they reduce the variability in fuel economy from one driver to the next. Although it is too early to predict the payback for automatic transmissions, their business case is expected to be strong over time. Note: All benefits and consequences are the same for automated manual transmissions (AMTs) and automatic transmissions except for the fuel economy performance.  AMTs offer 1-3% fuel economy improvements and enable even higher levels of performance in future with features such as downspeeding, and the use of GPS to better manage hills and valleys.   Fuel savings from automatic transmissions are yet to be determined.

Automated Manual Transmissions


Trucking Efficiency is highly confident that automated manual transmissions offer a good business case for adoption today.  Fleets should expect to see an average 1–3% improvement in fuel economy from automatic manual transmissions, which use a computer to shift the manual transmission at the optimal time. They are much easier to drive than manual transmissions because they eliminate the manual shifter and clutch.  These enhancements result in lower driver turnover, which in turn reduces recruiting and training costs. Improved driver recruitment and retention are big factors behind many fleet owners’ decision to specify these transmissions over manual transmissions. In addition, they reduce the variability in fuel economy from one driver to the next. Note: All benefits and consequences are the same for automated manual transmissions (AMTs) and automatic transmissions except for the fuel economy performance.  AMTs offer 1-3% fuel economy improvements and enable even higher levels of performance in future with features such as downspeeding, and the use of GPS to better manage hills and valleys.   Fuel savings from automatic transmissions are yet to be determined.

Electronic Engine Parameters


Trucking Efficiency has a high degree of confidence that optimizing engine parameters improves fuel economy and is well worth the effort. Depending on a fleet’s current operations, the payback can be rapid and significant. However, optimal fuel performance does not happen without a concentrated effort. Fleets that are already managing their electronic engine parameters can see fuel economy gains of around 0.5 mpg from optimizing the parameters, but gains can be even higher if the fleet employs drivers with poor driving habits.  Fleets that previously have not used parameters to optimize for fuel economy—often due to confusion surrounding terminology—can see fuel economy improvements in the 5-8% range.  No testing was done, although fleets and engine manufacturers provided insights into the fuel economy benefits offered by optimizing parameters. While engine parameters have been around since the advent of electronically-controlled diesel engines in the mid-1980s, not all fleets are using them to optimize their vehicles for fuel efficiency. Today there are more than 100 different parameters available for fleets to set, many of which can benefit fuel economy. In our study, we organized parameters into six categories: vehicle speed limits, vehicle configuration information, engine speed limits, idle reduction, driver rewards and miscellaneous MPG-related.

Lightweighting


Emissions regulations combined with fuel economy features and driver amenities on today’s commercial vehicles have added 1,000 lbs. to the typical Class 8 truck. Certain fleets like bulk haulers value weight savings more than other segments of the market. To understand the true benefits of reducing vehicle weight fleets should look beyond fuel economy improvement to freight efficiency gains—the ability to use fewer trucks to carry the same amount of payload. Fleets can save 2,000 lbs. by investing to a limited degree in lightweighting and as much as 4000 lbs. with an aggressive investment. Lightweighting can take place in various areas of the tractor and trailer including the powertrain, axle suspensions, wheel ends, drive shaft, frame, fifth wheel, and more.

Low Rolling Resistance Duals


Low rolling resistance (LRR) dual tires will save significant amounts of fuel when compared to tires that are not designed for low rolling resistance. Some of the costs to operate low rolling resistance tires may be higher than those of non-LRR tires, but those costs are recovered over the life of the truck. Cost per mile of tires has traditionally been defined in terms of initial purchase and tread life. However, the cost of fuel the tire consumes because of rolling resistance is five times greater than the initial purchase price of the tire. Rolling resistance makes up 30-33% of the total fuel cost of a Class 8 truck or about $0.21 per mile. The typical purchase price of the tire is about $0.04 per mile. The Confidence Rating indicates a high confidence in low rolling resistance dual tires to save on fuel costs signifying a good case for adoption.

Wide-Base Tires


Wide-base tires intended for the over-the-road line-haul market will save significant amounts of fuel when compared to tires that are not designed for low rolling resistance. Wide-base tires generally display lower rolling resistance when compared to equivalent dual tires. The benefits of wide-base tires compared to duals include up to a 1% reduction in overall vehicle weight, an equivalent upfront purchase price, and the potential for reduced maintenance. The Confidence Rating indicates a high confidence in low rolling resistance (LRR) tires, in both dual and wide-base configurations.  

Low-Viscosity Engine Lubricants


In a truck’s engine, mechanical losses from pumping and friction consume approximately 16% of the total energy input of the vehicle. Lower viscosity oils—oils with less internal resistance to flow—will reduce these engine mechanical losses, thereby reducing fuel use. Since 2003 fleets have been ramping up their investment in lower-viscosity lubricants. Yet while 40% of the largest, most efficiency-conscious fleets have adopted these engine oils, the adoption rates for the industry as a whole remain at only about 20%. However, new emissions regulations and the advent of new oil categories may increase the adoption rate.

We will be publishing further reports on other technologies on an ongoing basis. View all of the available technologies.