The latest Confidence Report released by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and Carbon War Room explores the benefits and challenges of a variety of trailer aerodynamic devices. The per-vehicle fuel economy benefit of trailer aerodynamic devices can be high, ranging from 1 percent to more than 10 percent, depending on the devices chosen.
Most fleets are choosing a combination of technologies to deal with reducing the aerodynamic drag in one or more key areas of the trailer: the gap, the underbody and the rear. Trailer aerodynamic devices improve fuel efficiency by reducing drag so that it takes less fuel to move down the road, especially at higher speeds.
While many aerodynamic devices for trailers have been around for years, the upcoming Phase 2 greenhouse gas emission standards will encourage trailer manufacturers and fleets to invest in the devices for their trailers.
This Confidence Report details devices for improving the aerodynamics of the gap, underbody and the rear, as well as more novel options, such as vortex generators, wheel covers and mud flaps.
The report describes each device’s unique challenges such as durability, deployment, trailer to tractor ratios limiting miles, a split incentive due to buyers of the aerodynamic devices not always buying the fuel, the ability to measure the fuel savings, and others.
The study team found that trailer aerodynamic technologies and strategies are constantly and rapidly evolving. The options detailed in the report are all currently available on the market today, and most are mature with a good track record of functionality, though they may be more or less economical depending on the specifics of a fleet’s operations.