Mesilla Valley Transportation, known for its efforts at saving fuel, is equipping its entire fleet of 3,500 long-haul trailers with side skirts and a folding boat tail that together claim an economy betterment of almost 12 percent at highway speeds.

The products are Transtex trailer skirting and the TrailerTail, both from ATDynamics, of San Francisco. MVT, based in Las Cruces, N.M., expects to annually save more than 1 million gallons of fuel worth $3 million, according to Royal Jones, the fleet's CEO.

"In our industry, being more efficient means being more competitive. Mesilla Valley has demonstrated innovation in the freight industry since its founding and is committed to operating the most efficient fleet in the country," Jones said. "This trailer technology is cost-effective, reliable and available today. The fuel savings we get from TrailerTails provide a 50-100 percent return on capital investment in one year."

The two devices together retail for about $4,800 per trailer, but prices are discounted for fleet purchases like that from MVT, according to ATDynamics sources.

The multi-million dollar investment by MVT is the largest after-market refurbishment of rear-drag reduction technology in the history of the freight transportation industry, said Andrew Smith, ATDynamics' founder and CEO. Because of fuel savings, it will cut CO2 emissions by over 11,000 tons annually, which is equivalent to taking over 2,000 cars off American roads.

"The new composite TrailerTail design is durable, easy to install, operate and maintain," Smith said. "In addition to significant fuel savings, TrailerTails have the critical safety benefits of reducing spray at the rear of trailers in wet weather and encouraging safer driving distance between the rigid steel frame of trailers and passenger vehicles."

TrailerTail reduces low-pressure suction drag at the rear of a semitrailer. When in use, it extends 4 feet from the rear of the trailer, and collapses flush against the trailer doors in less than 4 seconds when drivers need access to the trailer's interior. The device received safety approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2008.

The TrailerTail alone is proven to increase tractor-trailer fuel efficiency by 6.58 percent at 65 mph, based on third-party SAE J1321 testing, Smith said. Used with Transtex trailer skirting and other trailer aerodynamics enhancements, the TrailerTail enables tractor-trailers to achieve fuel savings of 12 percent.

MVT's first 200 TrailerTail units hit the road in August. The remaining 3,300 units will be installed and deployed over the next 12 months.

Check out how the TrailerTail works in this video from ATDynamics: