All That's Trucking

The Race to 10 MPG

Blog Commentary by Deborah Lockridge, Editor in Chief

August 21, 2017

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Sharp Transport driver James Thorne is trying to get 10 mpg with Cumberland International's C10 demo truck. Photo: Sharp Transport
Sharp Transport driver James Thorne is trying to get 10 mpg with Cumberland International's C10 demo truck. Photo: Sharp Transport

Last year, our annual special June fuel issue focused on the question of how feasible it was to hit 10 mpg in real-world operations, not a million-dollar concept SuperTruck. This summer, a couple of initiatives are putting that to the test.

This week, Cumberland International has teamed up with Sharp Transport in a drive campaign to hit 10 mpg with its C10 demo truck. We’ve written about the C10 program before, where the Tennessee dealership specs out a truck with all the best fuel-saving options they have to offer and let fleets try it out for free to see how the specs work in their operations.  

Sharp Transport is sending two drivers out in Cumberland’s C10 LT demo truck. The drivers will complete the same route to see who can average 10 mpg through several states and back to Middle Tennessee. Over the next four weeks follow udpates for the Race to 10 mpg by following Cumberland and Sharp Transport on Facebook. They will be sharing pictures, route updates, mpg stats and video along the way.

The race started Friday with the first driver, James Thorne. A professional driver for nearly 17 years and with Sharp for almost 11, over the last 2 years, he has sustained an impressive 8.5 mpg average with 3% idle and 53% cruise control utilization. 

“The plan here is to push the fuel efficiency envelope,” explains Jarit Cornelius, Sharp VP of maintenance and compliance (and an HDT 2016 Emerging Leader), hoping to break the 10 mpg barrier for the first time. “There is a friendly competition between our drivers to see who is able to sustain a 10 mpg average or more during their two-week course. We couldn’t be more excited about it!”

On a larger scale, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and Carbon War Room will kick off its Run on Less program in just a couple of weeks, on Sept. 6. Run on Less is a three-week event that wraps up during the inaugural North American Commercial Vehicle Show, which will run from September 25 to 28 in Atlanta.

Seven drivers will haul freight from different locations across the U.S. and Canada and will demonstrate how Class 8 trucks can use different technologies to achieve the best fuel economy possible. Some of the routes have been confirmed. One fleet with team drivers will deliver auto parts from El Paso, Texas, to Ellisville, Missouri. Another fleet will be doing dedicated store delivery in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. There is also a fleet that will run a semi-dedicated route from Laredo, Texas, to the Carolinas. Another fleet will do a daily round-trip from Perry, Georgia, to Charleston, S.C.

We’ve written about some of these drivers before, and some of them we know have already managed to hit 10 mpg.

Joel Morrow is not only a driver for Ploger Transportation, he’s in charge of their fuel-efficient and unusual specs.

Henry Albert is an owner-operator who once took a circular saw to his trailer mud flaps because he felt they were creating too much aerodynamic drag. He says consistent 10-mpg runs are hard to achieve, but he has managed over 11 mpg.

Jeff Clark is on Freightliner’s Team Run Smart along with Henry. He recently wrote a blog post about how Henry hit 10 mpg. “I know how Henry go to 10 MPG. He is obsessed.He tries everything. It something doesn't work, he dumps it, and tries something else.” Jeff is “only” getting 9 mpg, but we’ll see how he does when we’re on a special fuel efficiency run.

We’ve also reported on the other fleets signed up for the Run on Less roadshow. Execs from many of them have graced our pages as Truck Fleet Innovators, and we've written about their activities when it comes to fuel economy and other initiatives.

For instance, in this article from late last year on U.S. Xpress, we wrote about the fleet’s longstanding use of automated manual transmissions.

Here we write about Nussbaum experimenting with full-length trailer skirts.

And here’s one on four ways Hirschbach saves fuel.

Mesilla Valley has long been known as a fuel economy leader; here's a report on a TMC presentation on the fleet's quest for fuel savings.

And not so much an mpg challenge, but here's one on PepsiCo’s efforts to improve fleet efficiency.

NACFE has said this isn’t a contest, but a demonstration – but you know the fleets and drivers involved can’t help but view it as a bit of a friendly competition.

We’ll be watching both of these fuel economy efforts and will report further on these efforts. Maybe our 2018 special fuel economy issue should explore 11 mpg – or 12!

Related: Want more on fuel efficiency? Check out our 2014 special fuel economy issue, 121 Ways to Save on Fuel.


  1. 1. Carlton [ August 22, 2017 @ 05:25AM ]

    I see some trucks setting around burning fuel and I wonder why. It can be Ideal sleeping temperature and they are never cut off and are set on fast idle. I wish they would enforce a law on these people. wonder what their fuel mileage is. and who is paying for fuel.

  2. 2. Dennis O Taylor [ August 22, 2017 @ 06:58AM ]

    First, it is not a "race," it is a competition. In fact, race is NOT what you want to do in this case. Secondly, there is no Mpg "barrier" at 10 or any number. There may be some technical challenges to achieve that level. It might be better to think of it (10 MPG) as a milestone. Lastly, let's be sure to record the gross and tare weights, so that "Ton-miles per gallon," the true indication of fuel consumption, can be evaluated So, just to be clear, we are looking for a result in the neighborhood of 400 (gross)Ton-miles per gallon, depending on routes, weather and traffic.

  3. 3. Ralph De Rosa [ August 22, 2017 @ 07:08AM ]

    This will never happen. And who in the hell are going to fix them. Trucks are only only getting 6.5 miles to the galen. I have a 27 year old Mack that gets that. And I can fix it when it brakes down. Oh it never does.

  4. 4. Bakyt Bay [ August 22, 2017 @ 01:22PM ]

    55-62 mph on highways with 65-75mph limits on midwesthighways? Can you drive 67mph with 80.000 gross on east coast (from Boston to Philla, PA), or from Seattle, WA to Denver, CO with flatbed/stepdeck trailer and show at least 8mpg? I'm sure, you're cant
    On mountains area I can beat your 11-litter engines trucks with my 15 litter 6years old engine, and show you 8mpg
    Pathetic attempts to save money or show who is more fuel efficiencly. Want to help truck industry to save fuel? Plz, remove traffics in big cities, stop cut off big trucks and stop making appoitments like Walmart (late - fine). Stop driving with phones or DUI. Because of constantly brake-accelerating we losing a lot of diesel
    Just drive and respect. And truck drivers will save diesel.


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Author Bio

Deborah Lockridge

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All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.


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