Trailer Talk

TrailerTails’ Adoption in North America Drives European Union to Authorize Them

March 11, 2013

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Short Eco 50 model for Europe will save truck operators about 2% in fuel and CO2 emissions at the comparatively low highway speeds seen there, ATDynamics says.
Short Eco 50 model for Europe will save truck operators about 2% in fuel and CO2 emissions at the comparatively low highway speeds seen there, ATDynamics says.

Andy Smith is seeing more and more of his TrailerTails moving down American and Canadian highways, and soon he’ll see them in Europe.
The founder and CEO of ATDynamics on Sunday said that to reporters on the eve of the opening of the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. It was his latest briefing since he launched the fuel-saving folding-panel device in 2008.
If my memory is correct, that was at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., and I really didn’t think the spring-and-wire operated contraptions were practical. But tests by some pretty sophisticated fleet managers proved otherwise, and Smith and his colleagues have built and sold 12,000 TrailerTails to about 150 fleets so far.
Smith meanwhile had been lobbying officials of the European Union to allow TrailerTails there. Strict length limits had prevented them, unlike in the U.S., where federal authorities wrote a 5-foot exemption into length regulations for non-load-bearing aerodynamic improvers.
His lobbying has proven been successful, for an EU ministry in January approved a length extension of 50 centimeters, or just under 20 inches, for new trailers. Directive 97/27/EU, as it’s designated, allows use of a truncated version of the TrailerTail that will save about 2% in fuel. But the longer North American version is two and a half times better, Smith said.
Worldwide transportation regulators have paid close attention to the rapid adoption of TrailerTails on high efficiency trucking fleets in the United States, he explained. He’d like to get them to OK a longer area for the regular product because of the added savings and – something as important in European regulators’ minds - reduced carbon dioxide emissions from the engines of tractors pulling those trailers.
Like its longer North American cousin, the TrailerTail Eco 50 collapses easily and completely against the rear of a semi-trailer and acts as a trailer door buffer in its collapsed state. Fleet experience here has shown that snow and ice does not build up on the panels, wires and springs – something I suspected would happen – because they constantly move as the trailer bounds over pavement, thus shedding the frozen moisture.
That will be true in Europe, as well, unless the metric system changes the laws of thermodynamics.
“I suspect that a couple of years from now, it will be very unusual to see a trailer going down the highway without a tail hanging on it,” Smith remarked on Sunday. ATDynamics projects that 50,000 trailers with TrailerTails will be operating on U.S. roads by 2014.
ATDynamics will be displaying its products at TMC’s equipment exposition this week at the Opryland Resort. A TrailerTail will be installed on a van operated by Halvor Lines, a fleet based in Superior, Wis., deploying TrailerTails on 269 long haul trailers in 2013.


  1. 1. Tyrell Track Master [ March 12, 2013 @ 01:34PM ]

    Glad to see these babies getting more common. I have only seen a handful so far "in the wild", however. Anyone hazard a guess as to why we don't see them everywhere just yet? Seems like a common sense add-on.

  2. 2. Real World [ March 12, 2013 @ 03:18PM ]

    This maybe a common sense add-on, but if the driver doesn't open it, having it on the back of the trailer closed will not help fuel mileage. Or forgeting to close it while trying to back into a parking spot and it hits another truck causing damage not only to the other truck but also the tail.

  3. 3. MarginSteve [ March 13, 2013 @ 06:10PM ]

    This makes a huge amount of sense, though leave it to Europe to make their own dumb, less efficient standard. I was there in Nashville for the TMC, and it was fun to get to see one up close. It actually seems like the current version would hold up pretty well in a collision, better than skirts and trays against debris anyway. They let us get pretty rough with it there at the show. I guess I'd ask folks who've had it on for a while, though.

  4. 4. TrailerTail [ March 14, 2013 @ 12:04PM ]

    Thanks for the comments - There are over 13,000 TrailerTails sold to date (driving over 500 Million Miles) and hundreds more going on the road every month so you should see Tails on the road soon.

    @MarginSteve - Here's what a some customers are saying about running their fleet with TrailerTail:


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Author Bio

Tom Berg

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Senior Contributing Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.


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