constitute a significant percentage of commercial fleet vehicles on our roads,
responsible for the transportation of a myriad of goods and services across
However, their impact on the environment and economic efficiency necessitate
rethinking of their design and operation. The primary focus of such redesigning
has been on aerodynamics improvement to minimize air drag and thereby reduce
fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Role of Aerodynamics in Tractor-Trailer Efficiency
resistance (drag) is one of the leading causes of energy loss in
tractor-trailers. Studies have shown that at highway speeds, over 65% of the
total energy output of a truck's engine is expended to overcome air resistance.
Therefore, improvements in aerodynamics can result in significant reductions in
fuel consumption and GHG emissions.
Advancements in Commercial Fleet Vehicle Technology
advancements have been made in improving the aerodynamics of tractor-trailers.
These include the development of roof fairings, side skirts, boat tails, gap
fairings, and underbody devices.
- Roof Fairings:
These devices reduce air resistance by smoothing the airflow over the top of
the tractor-trailer. They can result in up to 2-4% improvement in fuel
- Side Skirts:
Side skirts minimize the underbody wind resistance. They can lead to 4-7%
improvement in fuel efficiency.
- Boat Tails:
These devices reduce the low-pressure region at the back of the trailer,
reducing the drag. Boat tails can improve fuel efficiency by 2-5%.
- Gap Fairings:
These are used to smooth the airflow between the tractor and the trailer,
improving fuel efficiency by up to 2%.
Devices: These tools are designed to optimize the
airflow underneath the trailer, leading to an up to 1-2% improvement in fuel
improving fuel efficiency, these aerodynamic devices significantly reduce CO2
emissions. For instance, a 6% improvement in fuel efficiency can result in an
annual reduction of approximately 9 tons of CO2 emissions per vehicle.
This can greatly help in achieving carbon neutrality targets set by countries
and corporations alike.
Cost of Ownership (TCO)
these aerodynamic devices do have an initial cost, their long-term benefits
outweigh these expenses, as seen in the TCO. The TCO considers all costs
associated with vehicle ownership, including purchase cost, fuel expenses,
maintenance, insurance, and resale value.
reducing fuel consumption, aerodynamic devices can significantly lower the TCO.
For example, a 6% improvement in fuel efficiency can result in savings of up to
$5,000 per year per vehicle in fuel costs.
Additionally, with an increase in fuel prices, the payback period for these
devices becomes shorter, making them more economically attractive.
advancements in tractor-trailer aerodynamics present an effective method to
improve sustainability and reduce the TCO. By using these technologies, the
commercial vehicle industry can play a crucial role in mitigating climate
change while improving their economic efficiency.