The 2013 Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference took place on August 21, featuring panels of industry experts discussing the most pressing issues affecting trucking companies today. Since we are still living in a post-recession world, it shouldn’t be too surprising that fuel economy was a major topic of interest. At CCC, we couldn’t agree more about the importance of fuel economy. We place a premium on anything that generates savings that we can pass on to our customers.
The CVOC panel on fuel economy concluded that the trucking industry is making great progress. Projects like the EPA-sponsored SuperTruck program are a great step in the right direction and are already producing substantial improvements. And with alternative fuels and exciting new technologies in the near future, we should continue to see positive results. One example of fuel economy technology that’s on the horizon is in South Korea, where a Shaped Magnetic Field Resonance system (SMFIR) creates a designated lane path using magnetic resonance conduits that are buried beneath the road.
Improvements at home
Panelist Jim Fier, the chief engineer of on-highway engines at Cummins Engine Co., said that most engine manufacturers had to temporarily shift focus in order to fulfill the EPA’s new Greenhouse Gas Regulations. However, he now expects most people in the engine industry to refocus their time and resources on improving fuel economy.
Panelist Max Fuller, chairman and CEO of U.S. Xpress, said that he’s noticed that the trucks he’s purchased in the last year have had an improved fuel economy of about 1 mpg. This is due to improvements to the drivetrain and advancements in trailer aerodynamics.
Most important factor: Drivers
In the midst of these technological improvements, however, the main variable in fuel economy is still the driver. The difference between a “good” and “bad” driver can be as much as 1 mile per gallon. It’s important to remember that although many drivers are squeezed for time, speeding does not help safety or fuel economy. In fact, driving too fast is the primary cause of increased fuel usage. Trucking industry experts agree that every mile per hour driven over 60 mph reduces fuel economy by one-tenth of a mile per gallon. Drivers should also monitor their idling, which can consume up to a gallon of fuel per hour.