The FlowBelow AeroKit adorns a special gold Freightliner rig in the exhibit hall at ATA MC&E. Photo by Evan Lockridge.

The FlowBelow AeroKit adorns a special gold Freightliner rig in the exhibit hall at ATA MC&E. Photo by Evan Lockridge.

SAN DIEGO -- Mesilla Valley Transportation, a New Mexico and Texas carrier known for its attention to fuel savings, has ordered 1,200 FlowBelow Tractor AeroKits to be installed on its entire fleet as MVT works toward a goal of a fleet average of 10 mpg.

FlowBelow announced at the American Trucking Associations' annual Management Conference & Exhibition that the AeroKits are expected to reduce MVT's fuel consumption by over 300,000 gallons of diesel a year – over $1 million a year -- and provide a less-than-one-year return on investment, faster than technologies they've previously adopted.

The AeroKit consists of Quick-Release Wheel Covers and Tandem Fairing that fill the gap between and behind the tractor drive wheels. According to Bren Marshell, FlowBelow's vice president of sales, SAE J1321 fuel economy testing using MVT's trucks and trailers showed a 2.23% fuel savings -- on top of MVT's existing fuel economy specs.

MVT had tried developing a similar system on their own, but decided to go with existing technology after conducting their own independent testing of the FlowBelow system.

Even before the adoption, MVT is seeing close to 9 mpg average in his fleet.

"The more efficient we are, the more competitive we can be," says MVT CEO Royal Jones. "But getting to this point has not been easy. We are always skeptical of the numbers vendors give us, so after FlowBelow provided their test results, we actually went back and did additional SAE fuel economy testing ourselves to verify the savings."

Bren Marshell, vice president of sales for FlowBelow, explains Mesilla Valley's adoption of its tractor fairing/wheel cover aero product. Photo by Evan Lockridge

Bren Marshell, vice president of sales for FlowBelow, explains Mesilla Valley's adoption of its tractor fairing/wheel cover aero product. Photo by Evan Lockridge

One of the keys to this product, Marshell says, it is designed for the tractor, not the trailer. "Carriers may have up to six or seven trailers for every tractor. With our product they realize savings every mile they run."

In addition, he said, "because it's not a trailer product, there are opportunities with fleets such as flatbed carriers and tanker carriers where there are no aero products available."

Another advantage, according to FlowBelow, is that the quick-release feature makes it much easier for drivers to inspect the wheel and hub than bolted-on wheel cover options. (See video below for a demonstration.)

The product has been on the market for about three years, and the company is on target to sell 18,000 to 20,000 units in 2015. It's currently an aftermarket product, but the system was on display at the Daimler Trucks North America booth at the ATA show, so an OE offering may be in the works.

In addition, the company will be pursuing the owner-operator market through an agreement with Kevin Rutherford, a radio personality on Sirius XM's trucking channel.

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