November 4, 2015 Vol. 12 No. 21

Are impressive fuel and emissions results impossible to achieve with the tools and technologies we already have? No, and a field test called The Efficiency Run by Daimler Trucks in Germany proves it. Mind you, the tractor-trailers involved in the extensive testing were carefully integrated units.

It seems to me that there are lessons in here for those of us in North America. Like going beyond the truck and trailer to find efficiency.

The company announced results of the testing last week, reporting that “fuel consumption, and therefore also CO2 emissions, can be significantly reduced – also at lower cost – if optimization efforts focus not just on the engine of the tractor unit, but on the vehicle as a whole.”

The series of tests was conducted by Daimler in co-operation with three carriers — DB Schenker Logistics, Grosse-Vehne, and Elflein. They pulled real freight on real routes under realistic conditions. The tests were supervised in detail by the DEKRA testing organization, which laid down the test conditions, carried out the measurements, and evaluated the results.

And what did they find? The two Mercedes-Benz Actros standard semi-trailer combinations that were optimized for the Efficiency Run each consumed 12 to 14% less fuel than the standard semi-trailer combinations of each fleet recorded in 2014. That exceeded the company’s expectations.

Daimler noted, appropriately, that even bigger reductions could be achieved with the use of specific fuels, best-practices fleet operations, and driver training.

The Efficiency Run also investigated the potential of the Long Combination Vehicle, once again with a clear result. In that test, the standard LCV showed a reduction in consumption of around 17% compared with the standard semi-trailer combination used in volume-based transport.