Two-truck platoons can reduce fuel consumption by 4%: NACFE

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Two-truck platoons have the potential to reduce fuel consumption by about 4%, averaged across both vehicles.

That’s the finding from the latest North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) confidence report, published today.

“Two-truck platooning, an emerging technology, is a viable method for reducing fuel consumption,” NACFE concluded.

The study looked at testing that has already been conducted. It then adjusted on-track test results to take into account real-world, on-road realities such as traffic congestion and the fact the two trucks will likely only be able to remain in platoon formation about 75% of the time. Track testing has shown the lead truck reducing fuel consumption by 4% while the following truck saves 10%.

This is with a following distance of 40-50 feet, which NACFE’s Mike Roeth predicted will be the starting point as two-truck platooning is adopted.

“What we wanted to do was understand the early stages of a path towards more automation in trucking,” Roeth said of NACFE’s latest confidence report, its 14th and the first to look at emerging technologies. “We see platooning being the next logical automation, and on down the line, lane-keeping and other technologies for assisting drivers and then finally self-driving or autonomous trucks either as part of a platoon or by themselves.”

Roeth added platooning does not imply driverless trucks, which is not fully understood today.

“Two-truck platooning is not fully autonomous or driverless,” Roeth said. “It’s being improperly grouped with that concept.”

Though platooning is not yet in use, many of the technologies that will enable it are already available, Roeth pointed out.

“The bulk of the required technology is currently available and being purchased by many fleets,” he said, referencing collision mitigation systems and in-cab cameras. “

You can download the full report here.


James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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