Trailer Tails – Commercially Available Device to Make Trucks 6-12% More Efficient

trailer-tail.gifWith no end in sight for high fuel prices, the pressure is on for the world’s truckers to take steps to cut back on fuel use or price themselves out of business. This task means changing driving styles as well as implementing aerodynamic changes to their vehicles. The latter technique is estimated to have the potential to save 2.4 Billion gallons of fuel annually. Do the math on that, line up the entrepreneurs and there’s a ginormous business opportunity at your feet.
Enter ATDyamics, who have invented a device called a “Trailer Tail” which is an aerodynamic attachment to the rear of a truck which results in 5-6% greater fuel efficiency. Match the Trailer Tail with side-skirt panels and you’ll get an additional 4-7%, tests show.
Of course such ideas come with unexpected challenges – The biggest – how do you close open the doors when there’s a tail on the truck?


The answer might be called “Truck Origami” – the tailer tail actually folds in on itself, collapsing against the doors so that they can be opened normally at a loading dock in a matter of seconds. The site has an eagles-themed video that can give you an idea as to how this works (link here).
Stating the obvious, CEO Andrew Smith says:

Suction drag at the tail end of a trailer causes the greatest amount of aerodynamic inefficiency still unaddressed by modern trailer designs. The worst shape to pull down the highway at 65 mph is a big rectangular box.

Considering the logic of Smith’s statement, it’s really a wonder why we haven’t seen technology like this emerge on a large scale before, such is the tragedy of nearsightedness inflicted when fuel prices are kept artificially low for so long. The good news is it’s clear that companies who are jumping at the opportunity early will emerge with a distinctly green competitive advantage – not only to their benefit, but to yours and mine.
Only drawback – no more drafting with your VW bug.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.