Now is the time to start with fuel efficiency. And save money.

Now is the time to start with fuel efficiency. And save money.

One of the main objectives resulting from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, bringing together representatives of 196 nations, is to reduce carbon emissions generated by transport to zero by 2050. Fuel efficiency should be high on fleet managers’ agendas as governments begin to impose legislation on the land freight transport industry to help achieve this objective. (Source: Transport & Environment) Fortunately, the quest for reduced carbon emissions through improved fuel efficiency can deliver significant cost savings for the fleet manager.

Reducing carbon emissions

According to the Transport & Environment (“T&E”) campaigning organisation, new technologies can deliver improved fuel efficiency and emissions savings of a third (28%) by 2050. Unlike the US, China and Japan, the EU has no CO2 emissions limits for heavy duty vehicles. That is set to change with the EU planning to introduce Europe’s first CO2 emissions standards for some truck categories in 2018 with application likely in 2025. (source: T&E).

Cost savings through fuel efficiency

Can achieving a legislation-imposed environmental goal be beneficial to a truck fleet operator? According to, the impact on total running costs of investing in fuel efficient technology can be amortised in a relatively short time frame. It analyses the costs as follows:

  • A truck travels an average of 130,000 km per year with 30% of total running costs spent on fuel.
  • A truck without fuel efficiency options costs about € 95,000; with these options € 138,000. (Scania R450)
  • A typical truck consumes 33l per 100km at an average cost of €0.9/litre. So  diesel costs over 130,000 km are around € 40,000.
  • In 2016, an ICCT study said tractor trailer fuel efficiency could be 40 percent better. The report focuses on fuel-saving engine, transmission, and tractor-trailer technologies. These technologies are available or expected to be commercially available between 2020 and 2025.  Theoretically, under ICCT’s fuel saving of 40% scenario,  if you paid € 43,000 extra for the Scania fuel efficiency options, you could amortise this investment in just over 2.5 years through fuel savings of € 16,000 per year

Technology for greater fuel efficiency

Most of the technology needed to make trucks more fuel efficient exists already but tends to be optional and has to be bought by the fleet manager. In the medium term, the costs of the technology could be reduced by manufacturers offering it as standard on their trucks and trailers.

There are different ways for fleet managers to improve the fuel efficiency of their trucks and trailers:

  • Low resistance tyres

Low resistance tyres and automatic tyre inflation systems can reduce fuel consumption significantly. According to Goodyear, the right choice of tyre can reduce a truck’s fuel consumption by up to 15%.

  • Aerodynamic add-ons

These can include aerofoils and skirts to improve the way the air flows across the truck and trailer. For example, a manufacturer called Airflowdeflector offers “v-spoilers” or “vortex generators” for this purpose. It claims that the v-spoilers can lead to fuel savings of up to 6%, are easy to fit and improve handling.

For trailers, this can mean adding side skirts, boat tails and skirts to cover trailer gaps.

There has also been some pioneering research done by Dr Thomas C. Cork at the University of Notre Dame, USA who conducted tests using “plasma actuators,” miniature high tech filters, on a scale model of a truck and trailer to reshape and redirect the flow of air across the vehicles in a more fuel efficient way. It produced 22.7% less drag and yielded 11% fuel savings. This technology is still in development but could have a major impact in the near future.

  • Engines and driveline

Another source of fuel efficiency is the engine. Increasingly, fleet managers will be able to opt for hybrid and electric engines for their trucks. Reducing engine friction, optimising combustion, adjusting engine controls and recovering waste heat are also ways of achieving fuel efficiency.

Actions taken to the driveline, such as adjusting axle efficiency and transmission efficiency and adding predictive cruise control, generate fuel savings. (source: )

  • Freight Exchange Platforms

Transport companies can join Freight Exchange Platforms which provide real-time links between companies in need of goods to be transported in partial or full loads on specific routes and road transporters with spare trailer capacity which are travelling on those routes. Filling up spare trailer capacity in a return journey can generate better returns on fuel.

TIP fuel-saving experience and expertise

Our experience in maintaining trailers for over 45 years gives TIP extensive insight into fuel optimisation. Fleet managers can bring their trailers and trucks to one of our many workshops across Europe for maintenance and advice on how to generate more fuel efficiency. Fully qualified and certified technicians are on hand to advise you.  Contact TIP to talk about fuel saving via this contact form.

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