Trailer Talk

Regulations Will Widen Use of Aero Devices, Wabco Says

Operators will realize solid fuel savings that will pay for the devices in under two years, unless the devices are damaged or need other repairs.

March 5, 2017

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Trailer skirts are common on vans and reefers, and soon will become standard equipment. Other devices will be necessary to meet federal requirements by 2021. Photo: Tom Berg
Trailer skirts are common on vans and reefers, and soon will become standard equipment. Other devices will be necessary to meet federal requirements by 2021. Photo: Tom Berg

In preparation for launching a new trailer aerodynamic product at the Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting last week, Wabco called up some interesting statistics regarding their use. Taken from a recent Trucking Efficiency report, the stats were in a chart showing percentages of truck operators using and not using aero devices.

To summarize: Big fleets are using skirts, smaller fleets are more likely to employ other devices, and lots of managers say they will never use them. 

That should soon change.

Most big fleets are using skirts, but smaller fleets are more likely to use TrailerTails and other devices, according to a study by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (a.k.a. Trucking Efficiency). 
Most big fleets are using skirts, but smaller fleets are more likely to use TrailerTails and other devices, according to a study by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (a.k.a. Trucking Efficiency).

In a brief webinar a few days before the unveiling, Wabco executives predicted many more truckers would be using trailer skirts, tails and other devices because government regulations – specifically, Phase 2 of the Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Economy rules – will force them to. Aero devices reduce the power needed to pull trailers at highway speeds, thus reducing fuel burn and production of carbon dioxide and other gases.

Starting Jan. 1 of next year – fewer than nine months from now – all new 53-foot box-type trailers will come with trailer skirts, like ‘em or not.  Put another way, the “EPA projected adoption rate is 100% penetration for aerodynamic solutions in 2018 (newly built dry and reefer vans),” Wabco said. The rate now, according to the stats, is 46%, except for most trailers now operating in California, whose regs already require them.

“From 2021 forward more aerodynamic solutions will be required to meet the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas II regulation,” noted Wabco. These include gap reducers, tail extenders and tire-pressure monitors and inflators.

However, operators will realize solid fuel savings that will pay for the devices in under two years, studies say. That assumes the devices run without problems, which in real-life conditions is almost impossible. Occasional maintenance and damage repairs eat into fuel savings, which is why many owner-operators and fleet managers resist using the devices.

Users report fuel savings of 1% to 7% and paybacks of under one year to seven years for various devices. 
Users report fuel savings of 1% to 7% and paybacks of under one year to seven years for various devices.

The best defense against such expense is choosing equipment that stays in place and resists damage. Wabco says its products will do that, and so do some competitors.

A few paragraphs up I said the current use percentages “should change.” They will, unless President Trump’s federal government regulations cuts target GHG-2. So far, they haven't.

Comments

  1. 1. Bill Wright [ March 07, 2017 @ 05:59AM ]

    I travel a lot of highway miles for work and as a Fleet Manager I pay special attention to all of these aero devices. I notice a lot more trailers with the the trailer tails folded up and not in use than I do see deployed.

 

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Author Bio

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Tom Berg

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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