THERE IS A lot of focus on the progress being made toward the electrification of trucking. Customers and stakeholders are holding fleets accountable to take actionable steps toward their sustainability goals, and fleet electrification will be a huge step in that direction. As advocates for sustainable trucking solutions, we are excited to see the promise of alternative fuel vehicles become a reality.
While still expensive, it’s clear that the electrification of last-mile and shorthaul trucks has momentum and will be an important growth area over the next several years. Pick-up trucks, transit vans and short-haul vehicles are well suited for the initial implementation of electric. The one area that is likely to be a laggard in electric is Class 8 middle-mile and Over The Road trucking. Due to range limitations, the total cost of ownership, and lack of charging infrastructure, electrification at scale is likely many years away. Even California’s Advanced Clean Trucks1 rule looks for only 40% of trucks to be electric by 2035.
In order to make progress against sustainability goals in the meantime, the industry will need to implement technologies that can be a bridge to zero-emission to reduce the consumption of diesel fuel and help combat climate change.
Investing in emissions-reducing aerodynamic technologies is a proven short- to medium-term strategy that will help improve fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions. These investments typically come with a meaningful ROI. In addition to helping diesel fleets cut carbon emissions, they also help extend the range on electric trucks.
At highway speeds, aerodynamics contribute 50% to overall fuel economy.2 Drag is created along multiple points of the truck and trailer, including the front of the truck, the gap between the trailer and the tractor, the sides and underbody of the trailer, and the back of the trailer. The smoother the airflow around those points, the lower the drag. Reducing drag not only increases fuel efficiency but also has a direct impact on carbon emissions. According to the EPA,3 each gallon of diesel consumed releases approximately 22.5 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The average long-haul truck puts 150,000 miles a year on the road, using more than 23,000 gallons of diesel. A 5% improvement in fuel efficiency can save more than 1,100 gallons of fuel a year per truck, or nearly 26,000 pounds of carbon dioxide all while driving cash to the bottom line.
There are many new technologies available today that can reduce emissions and improve fleet performance—for all fuel types, including electric when it becomes widely available. Most fleets are already working directly with their OEM to purchase standard aero packages, but there are many other options to explore beyond side extenders, including tractor-trailer gap reducers, such as TruckWings4, tire inflation systems, wheel covers and mudflaps, trailer skirts, etc. NACFE has published confidence reports5 on many of these technologies and can provide unbiased information.
These new technologies can be retrofitted on existing fleets to start making an impact on emissions today while also deploying them on any new trucks. With minimal cost and downtime, fleets can start reducing carbon emissions and save money in the long run by reducing fuel consumption.
No change is too small when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint. And with fuel costs being the top concern in the latest ATRI survey, emissions-reducing technology means fuel-saving technology. While we wait patiently for Class 8 fleets to become fully electrified, emissions-reducing technologies can be the bridge to help you and your customers start to make an impact on your ESG goals today.