When you picture modern fuel efficiency, heavy-duty trucks are probably not what comes to mind. But a group of sustainability advocates are looking to change that.

“We want to shock the industry,” said Mike Roeth, executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.

This summer, the NACFE and other organizers will host a cross-country demonstration that they hope will draw attention to the array of efficient trucking products that are commercially available in the market.

Dubbed “Run On Less,” the event will feature a handful of trucks traversing the country simultaneously along different routes. For more than two weeks the trucks will provide live, real-time information to demonstrate the effects of different advancements attached to each vehicle.

Run On Less is designed to draw attention to efficient trucking technology available to fleets now, unlike futuristic features – such as autonomous driving systems – that remain distant, Roeth said.

The complete list of options is quite extensive. Some of the most prevalently used features that will be showcased in Run On Less include: low-rolling resistance tires; automated manual transmissions; and 6×2 rear axles – a configuration that has three axles and six wheel-ends, but only one of the rear tandem axles is actually powered by the engine.

Raising awareness of the available options and instilling confidence in their ability to work for different needs are some of the biggest challenges in convincing carriers to adopt the technologies, Roeth said.

“Run On Less is a good way to do both,” Roeth said. “This is what is possible with what’s available to truck companies today.”

The trucks will converge in Atlanta at the North American Commercial Vehicle show this September to demonstrate the results. So far seven fleets have agreed to participate. They are Frito Lay, US Xpress, Hirschbach, Nussbaum, Ploger Transportation, Albert Transport and Mesilla Valley Transportation.

Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson

Run On Less is hoping to benefit from a bit of star power. Famed entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is involved as the founder of the nonprofit Carbon War Room, which works to bring sustainable technologies to market.

“All trucks should be able to hit 9 mpg and that’s the objective using whichever combination of technologies suits their fleets,” Branson said. “When you think that most fleets don’t get more than 5 mpg it’s an incredible milestone to achieve.”

The estimated national average fuel economy for trucks in the heaviest Class 8 weight segment is 6.4 mpg, Roeth said.

“Fuel economy is very important but being a good steward of our environment is also something that’s very important,” said Eric Fuller, chief executive of US Xpress. “We really try to minimize our carbon footprint as much as possible from a business standpoint.”

To demonstrate their progress in real time, each truck will send live data back to RunOnLess.com. Visitors will be able to track the trucks’ location, fuel economy, weather conditions and whether the vehicle is running on an incline or flat ground.

“We’re trying to put context into the performance of each truck and what they have to deal with,” Roeth said. “This is basically us peering in on their normal work.”

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