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So maybe you’ve been wondering, do those thing-a-ma-jiggers that go along the side of the trailer, or underneath it, just ahead of the axles, really save any fuel? I’m referring, of course, to trailer side skirts and aerodynamic undercarriage devices. The answer, thanks to the highly respected testing of FPInnovations’ Performance Innovation Transport (PIT), is that most do save fuel, though the savings vary.

PIT has held the results of its twice-annual Energotest results pretty close to its vest in recent years, sharing them only with member fleets. Can’t really blame’em. They are a member-driven organization and there has to be a carrot to encourage fleets to sign on. Giving the test results to member fleets allows them to determine which technologies really do save fuel, and which ones are snake oil. They can then direct testing resources to the technologies that deliver a payback.

All that said, PIT this year has shared the results of five years of testing trailer aerodynamic devices. The results…drumroll, please…side skirts reduced fuel consumption by an average of 6.69%. trailers with trailer undercarriage devices reduced fuel consumption an average of 1.43%.

Included in the testing were side skirts from Freight Wing, Laydon Composites, Ridge Corp. and Transtex Composite. Fuel savings from these fairings ranged from 5.2% to 7.45%. Undercarriage air deflectors were tested from AirFlow Deflector, Airman and SmartTruck. The savings ranged from 0% to 2.2%, according to PIT.

While on the topic of PIT, it’s unfortunate that their fuel consumption testing that would have pit a European cabover against a North American conventional truck did not happen as scheduled. It’s not PIT’s fault. There must’ve been some truck lovers at CBSA, because Customs got their hands on the European trucks and wouldn’t let them go until PIT’s scheduled track time had elapsed. The group is still planning to conduct the test, with results hopefully available for release by the American Trucking Associations’ convention later this month. Which truck are you backing? My money’s on the conventional – it just looks more aerodynamic. That said, I suspect the results will be closer than we think.

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  • why dont we quit wasting time and huge amounts of money trying to get better fuel economy, everytime something new comes along the price of fuel goes up and up, theres not alot of money to be made anymore and really we need to stabilize the cost of fuel and get better freight rates, look at the new price for a heavy user licence plate in ontario, it was $3052 for a year now its $3964 and in december its going up another 22% or $872 dollars = $4836 and next december another 6% = $5222 thats right by next december we’ll be paying $2200 dollars more per year just to licence our trucks, any way theres no sense in trying to save fuel the price will just go up!!