Passing Zone

Ray of Hope: Trucking's Beacon of Fuel Efficiency

Blog commentary by David Cullen, Executive Editor

September 19, 2017

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Richard Branson (center) expounds on how trucking's mpg efforts are a "ray of hope" in the global campaign to save fuel and protect the planet from climate change. Looking on (right) is NACFE's Mike Roeth. Photo: David Cullen
Richard Branson (center) expounds on how trucking's mpg efforts are a "ray of hope" in the global campaign to save fuel and protect the planet from climate change. Looking on (right) is NACFE's Mike Roeth. Photo: David Cullen

NEW YORK CITY – Speaking here on Sept. 19 at a Run on Less media briefing, billionaire entreprenaur Richard Branson touched on why he is so committed to fighting climate change (and climate change deniers) and why he sees trucking as a leader in the effort to massively reduce carbon output across the globe.

Recounting what he and his staff saw when they emerged briefly from their wine-cellar shelter on his private island in the British Virgin Islands during the eye of Hurricane Irma, Branson said that "outside it looked just like an atomic bomb [had hit]. Everything was just flattened [including] 200-year-old trees; nothing was left standing." 

Branson, who co-founded the Carbon War Room global nonprofit in 2009 that's teamed up with the North American Council for Freight Efficiency to put on Run for Less, is calling for a disaster-recovery plan on the scale of the post-WWII Marshall Plan to help restore the various Caribbean islands devastated by Irma.

According to the founder of multinational conglomerate Virgin Group, what the region needs is nothing less than a massive effort that will "aid in recovery, sustainable reconstruction, and long-term revitalization of the local economy."

Having ridden out Irma and witnessed its historic destruction, Branson said he could not have been anywhere else but in New York for this year’s Climate Week NYC, a global summit taking place in town from Sept. 18-24 alongside the United Nations General Assembly meeting. 

The table-thumper

“Scientists tell us the storms are only going to get stronger and more intense,” said Branson. “That’s why I’m here for the climate talks — to thump the table and try to get people to realize we all have got to do something about it. 

“And to be here at this trucking event and to see a ray of hope in one so important industry,” he continued. “Because you know, it won’t be just America that will benefit from the [fuel-efficiency] breakthroughs being talked about here. This is a global benefit to be shared with the global community. The amount of carbon [that’s going to be eliminated] is just gigantic. So, I’m here to congratulate the [Run on Less] team working on this.” 

That “ray of hope” was the impressive early results for the ongoing Run on Less fuel-efficiency demo run released at the briefing: Over the first 10 days of the planned three-week run, the seven trucks and their drivers scored an average of 10.1 mpg while covering 31,492 “real-world” miles.

In other words, in just 10 days, the trucks and drivers taking part in the program were responsible for consuming 1,800 fewer gallons of diesel and saving $4,500. 

What’s more, reported Mike Roeth, NACFE operations lead for Run on Less, the highest one-day average for a truck in those early days was 12.1 mpg. The lowest was 7.4 mpg. 

He pointed out that if the 1.7 million trucks in the U.S. and Canada today achieved the same level of efficiency as the trucks in the Run, there would be annual cumulative savings of 9.7 billion gallons of fuel, $24 billion and 98 million tons of CO2.

Taking it on the road

Run on Less, billed as a first-of-its-kind nationwide “fuel efficiency roadshow,” kicked off from multiple locations across the country in the second week of September and is slated to wrap up at the upcoming inaugural North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta Sept. 25-28.

The demo program aims to show how Class 8 trucks can leverage various technologies—as well as driver skill – to achieve the highest fuel efficiency possible in real-world operation.

With the program’s stated goal of achieving 9.0 mpg in mind, the trucks have been fitted with different technologies, including 6x2 setups, automated transmissions, aerodynamic devices, wide-base tires and idling-reduction equipment.

The daily mpg performance for all the participants, expressed in gallons and dollars, is being posted on the Run on Less website

The participating fleets are Albert Transport, PepsiCo/Frito-Lay, Hirschbach, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Nussbaum Transportation, Ploger Transportation, and U.S. Xpress.

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Author Bio

David Cullen

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Executive Editor

Executive Editor David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.


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