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The downsides to being fuel-efficient

It ain’t easy being green. Just ask Henry Albert. He’s the fuel-savvy owner/operator from North Carolina who has gained fame through his involvement with Freightliner’s Slice of Life program. Henry’s been out there...


It ain’t easy being green. Just ask Henry Albert. He’s the fuel-savvy owner/operator from North Carolina who has gained fame through his involvement with Freightliner’s Slice of Life program. Henry’s been out there spreading the gospel of fuel economy for several years now and a quick Google or YouTube search of his name will yield no shortage of results.

I first met Henry at last year’s Shell SuperRigs, where he gave me a walk-around of his tractor-trailer, highlighting the many fuel-saving features he has incorporated. The one that got my attention was his relocation of the trailer licence plate from its usual place under the frame where it hangs in the wind, to a new location mounted onto the trailer frame. He figured it could save him about $400 per year. Not a lot of money, but he takes a holistic approach to saving fuel and all the seemingly insignificant things do add up.

I once again crossed paths with Henry at a recent Freightliner event in Napa Valley, Calif. at which the company’s new Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission was on display. Henry, in good humour, shared some of the challenges resulting from consuming so little fuel.

For one, he can never make the ‘Platinum’ club at one of the large truck stop chains. Benefits include unlimited showers, yet he doesn’t burn enough fuel in any given year to meet their minimum requirement. Bummer.

And speaking of showers, he can run 2,400 miles between fill-ups, meaning a free shower with every top-up just isn’t enough to stay clean on a long-haul trip. After all, the guy wears a tie when driving, so personal hygiene is important. Henry has taken to putting 50 gallons in one saddle tank (the minimum requirement for a free shower) and then shuts the pump down and repeats on the other side. Voila – two free showers!

Then again, I’m sure Henry could pay for his showers and still come out on top, given how little fuel he burns. He could probably stay in fancy hotels every night and still come out on top.

Paying for fuel isn’t as painful for Henry as it is for many other owner/operators. His economy is so good that fuel has become a profit centre for him – he makes 10 cents a mile on the fuel surcharge. He jokes that pumping fuel twice a week is his part-time job. Henry is passionate about fuel economy. It’s a moral victory for him every time he finds a way to squeeze an extra ounce of fuel out of his truck and the moral victories come frequently.

It’s not magic, either. Everything he puts on the truck is widely available and in most cases every bit as effective here in Canada as in the southern states. The reason I mention all this is that Freightliner has launched a unique new online community called Team Run Smart. The site will share practical tips and techniques for running – and living – smarter. The idea is to improve the bottom lines of owner/operators everywhere.

Henry has been named the first of four ‘coaches’ and will be dispensing his advice and communicating with owner/operators regularly through the site. Check it out at www.TeamRunSmart.com. None of us have all the answers, but collectively we can figure a lot of things out.


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