November 2008, TruckingInfo.com - Editorial
Aerodynamic TrailerTail - a patented rear-drag reduction device for tractor-trailers proven to improve fuel efficiency by 5 percent - has received an exemption from the U.S. Department of Transportation's length restrictions on commercial motor vehicles. Following a first-of-its-kind review process, the agency confirmed that the TrailerTail meets federal standards of crash safety, lighting and conspicuity, and size.
The TrailerTail fairing is made of lightweight, durable panels designed to endure daily wear and driver abuse. Its patented design collapses from 4 feet to 3 inches in length in fewer than six seconds, folding flat against rear swing-doors of dry van, refrigerated and drop-deck trailers to maintain normal access to cargo.
Third-party SAE J1321 testing conducted in 2007 showed that the TrailerTail boosts fuel efficiency by 5.1 percent at 62 mph. With diesel prices above $3 per gallon, the TrailerTail can save the trucking industry more than $2 billion in fuel costs annually based on typical long-haul trailer mileage, the manufacturer says.
The device's performance has been recognized by the U.S. EPA SmartWay program and the California Air Resources Board, which considers the TrailerTail alone to be sufficient for compliance with a prospective state law mandating the use of aerodynamic devices on 53-foot trailers.
"As public policy shifts toward lower greenhouse-gas emissions, we're offering fleet managers a cost-effective compliance tool," says Andrew Smith, CEO of ATDynamics, the maker of the TrailerTail device.
ATDynamics elected earlier this year to subject the TrailerTail to a series of safety trials, including the trucking industry's first-ever crash test of an aerodynamic device, according to the company. Testing was conducted by an independent laboratory authorized to perform compliance testing under U.S. automotive safety programs. ATDynamics submitted test results for joint review by the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
On Oct. 10, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a letter certifying the TrailerTail's length exemption for reference by law enforcement officials and trucking companies. The letter is available at ATDynamics' web site, www.atdynamics.com.
"High-mileage fleets now understand that aerodynamics is a basic way to raise profits during this economic slowdown," says Chuck Horrell, vice president of engineering for ATDynamics. "Throughout the rest of 2008, we are focused on delivering TrailerTail units to priority fleet customers and taking orders for 2009 production."
"From the outset, we engineered the TrailerTail to comply with unique requirements for rear-mounted aerodynamic devices," Smith says. "We're thrilled that after our frequent consultations with regulators over the past year, the government has now cleared the way for long-haul fleet managers to invest in fuel-saving technology."
Fleet operators interested in testing TrailerTails in their long-haul operations should contact ATDynamics' director of fleet relationships at [email protected]
Testing and development of TrailerTail technology is being done in conjunction with industry partners such as Logistics Management, Robert Transportation, GE Trailer Fleet Services and Utility Trailer.
E-mail Deb Whistler at [email protected], or write P.O. Box W, Newport Beach, CA 92658.