A couple of new, sophisticated trailer aero add-ons were on display caddy-corner to each other on the show floor at the recent American Trucking Associations management conference and exhibition.

One was the new, much-easier-to-use iteration of ATDynamics' TrailerTail, a boattail that now folds up easily like a giant piece of origami. The other was a new under-trailer system developed by a company founded by the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay program.

Executive Editor Steve Sturgess was there and filed reports on Truckinginfo.com.

Big Savings From Boat Tail

ATDynamics' Trailer Tail is new for 2011 with greater ease of operation, says the company.

The aerodynamic trailer boattail, introduced several years ago to improve truck fuel mileage and satisfy California's trailer aerodynamics requirement, has been redesigned for very simple, single-handed operation.

Called the Trailer Tail, the device is very like a giant piece of origami, so intricately and simply does it fold. Single latches at the base of the trailer door hold the device closed. Pulling down on the latch deploys the tail, one on each door, that extend the rear of the trailer by 4 feet and provide a converging surface to direct the air flowing from the roof and sides of the trailer into a more ordered airstream to the rear of the trailer. By filling the low pressure back there, the trailer air drag is significantly reduced - by up to 6.6 percent at 65 mph, said ATD's founder, Andrew Smith.

The device deploys in a couple of seconds and can be closed almost as quickly to allow for the opening of the trailer doors to latch flush against the side of the trailer, prior to backing into a loading dock. If a driver is not prepared even to do this, the door can be opened with the tail deployed. The shape of the flaps of the device and the design of the supporting structure are such that it will fold against the trailer side and be clamped by the door as it is hinged back to the trailer side. When the door is released and hinged around to its closed position, the tail redeploys.

click here for Steve's full report, including video.

Under-Trailer Fairings Claim Big Savings

An innovative set of under-trailer fairings from SmartTruck are claimed to offer more than 10 percent fuel savings when combined with other SmartTruck fairings on a van or reefer trailer.

The fairings consist of a base kit and additional options, all designed to work together and offer incremental savings.

The base kit consists of a fairing mounted ahead of the tandem, another under the tandem suspension and a third at the underride guard under the trailer. The most visible components of the Smart Truck Under Tray System are the two carefully shaped hollow polyethylene plastic fairings. Like all the SmartTruck offerings, all bolt on to the trailer and are simple to install.

As the trailer goes down the road, air impacting the front fairing is directed down and under the trailer running gear where the flat, suspension fairing keeps the air compressed. As it exits, this air meets a carefully rounded third device that flows the air into the low pressure area up and into the space behind the trailer doors.

click here for the full report.