Photo by Jim Park

Photo by Jim Park

NASHVILLE -- Fleets that optimize their electronic engine parameters for fuel economy can expect to see about a 0.5 mpg improvement in fuel economy, according to a new Confidence Report issued by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency at the Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting.

Fuel economy improvements of 5–8% are possible for fleets that previously have not used parameters to optimize for fuel economy.

Much like users of common electronic devices such as smartphones and televisions, most fleets set only a fraction of the electronic engine parameters that can be used.

According to the report, engine parameters add no weight or cost, and don’t require any additional maintenance; they are already an integral part of the engine control software. These benefits make engine parameters unique among efficiency technologies, and contributed to the study team’s high confidence rating.

“Optimizing engine parameters is well worth the effort — it enhances fuel economy and saves fleets a lot of money. But the complexity of optimization is preventing many fleets from enjoying the benefits,” says Dave Schaller, North American Council for Freight Efficiency program manager.

 The Confidence Report focuses on six engine parameter categories:

  • Vehicle speeds
  • Vehicle configuration information
  • Engine speed and torque limits
  • Idle reduction
  • Driver rewards
  • Miscellaneous MPG-related features

NACFE identified eight barriers to changing the settings that arise at three specific points during the optimization process, among them:

Understanding Parameters

  • The large number of parameters available requires extra effort to fully understand.
  • Interrelations between multiple parameters and/or between parameters and other systems on the truck.

Selecting and Ordering Parameters:

  • Each engine OEM has its own terminology and brand names for its parameters, and even some slight differences in how they function. Even within a single OEM there will be differences from one engine model to the next.
  • The majority of fleets have multiple years and models of engines in active operation, sometimes from multiple OEMs.

Maintaining Parameters

  • Variation in service tools and lack of telematics: Changes in duty cycles or even insights from new truck performance data may indicate that a certain parameter should be altered on a group of trucks. But right now changing parameters requires someone physically connecting with the truck. This can be a time-consuming task for a large fleet. Telematics technology would allow for parameters to be updated remotely.
  • Negative reactions from drivers: Fleets must communicate the benefits of parameters to their drivers, as often a driver’s initial reaction to anything that places restrictions on vehicle operation is quite negative.

The report offers insights and best practices to deal with the obstacles to programming and maintaining parameter settings. It also contains fleet and dealer perspectives on setting and using electronic engine parameters, a summary of service tools available from engine manufacturers, and a parameter names comparison chart.

Download the full report at