Al Smith is the happiest man in Ontario this week. Al was hired this spring by ATDynamics to grow its trailer tail business in Canada. Problem was, the devices could not yet be legally operated on this side of the 49th parallel. (The good news was, Al would have to sell very few units to surpass previous years’ sales).
Kidding aside, it must’ve been frustrating. Al had a proven product to sell, to a market that didn’t allow it! While Canada had modified its Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations to allow for the use of full-sized trailer tails, it was up to each province to then follow suit before the aerodynamic devices could be used. Conventional wisdom would suggest the provinces would move quickly to do so, given their purported interest in the environment and reducing emissions from the transportation sector. But this is government, and conventional wisdom does not apply. And so we waited.
Meanwhile, ATDynamics offered a shorter, two-foot tail, which could be legally operated on Canadian highways, but even they discouraged customers from buying it, since the fuel savings were far less than the 5% touted using the full-length, 4-ft. tails. I spoke to Al at Truck World in April and he was optimistic Ontario, “any day now” would be approving full-sized trailer tails. The paperwork was sitting on the Transport Minister’s desk, awaiting his signature, AL told me. So we waited. And waited.
In the US, fleets continued to adopt the fuel-saving technology. More than 150 US carriers purchased trailer tails in the first half of 2014, bringing the total number of fleets now using them to about 500. Collectively, they’ve pulled these tails some two billion miles since the product was launched. That’s a lot of fuel saved. But here in Canada, we continued to wait. And wait.
Well, earlier this month the waiting ended, in Ontario at least. The province announced a “deferred enforcement” agreement that will see it allow full-sized trailer tails effective immediately, until its legislation can be modified to permanently allow the devices. Trailer tails are now legal in Ontario, with other provinces likely to follow suit – eventually. This is good news for the industry. Get sellin’, Al!
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies