For the ninth year in a row, truck fleets participating in an ongoing initiative focusing on fuel efficiency among Class 8 trucks have posted an improvement over the previous year. The participating fleets showed a 1 percent improvement in fuel economy in 2016.
One percent? That’s it? Big deal, you might say.
Keep in mind, the participating fleets operate more than 71,000 tractors and 234,000 trailers. And that 1 percent improvement saved them almost a collective half-billion dollars. That’s a hefty chunk of change, and it’s also a lot of carbon.
On August 22, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) released the Trucking Efficiency Annual Fleet Fuel Study. Trucking Efficiency is a collaborative initiative between the NACFE and the Carbon War Room, a global nonprofit started by Richard Branson and a group of likeminded entrepreneurs aimed at promoting business solutions that reduce carbon emissions and advance the low-carbon economy. The goal of Trucking Efficiency is to double the efficiency of the North American trucking fleet by eliminating barriers to information, demand, and supply.
The study keeps track of technologies purchased by the fleets as well as practices adopted through the resources and guidance of Trucking Efficiency to improve fuel efficiency, and to measure the ensuing results.
The fleets providing data for this year’s study include Bison Transport, Cardinal Logistics, CFI, CR England, Challenger Motor Freight, Crete, Frito-Lay, Maverick, Mesilla Valley Transportation, NFI Industries, Nussbaum, Paper Transport, Prime, Ryder System Inc., Schneider, United Parcel Service, US Xpress and Werner.
The primary finding was that the participating fleets continued to increase their rate of technology adoption. Automated transmissions, tire pressure systems, two-speed fan clutches, low viscosity oil and predictive cruise control all saw increased adoption by fleets, according to a statement by NACFE. Trailer skirt technology had the quickest ramp up to widespread adoption.
The fleets attained an average fuel economy of 7.11 mpg for the year, compared to the U.S. fleet average of 5.89 mpg. It was also noted that 2017 model trucks operated by those fleets achieved 7.8 to 9.2 mpg, with some approaching 10 mpg.
At an average fuel price of $2.34 per gallon, that 7.11 mpg average resulted in a combined savings of $499.27 million, or $7,020 per year per truck compared to the national average of all trucks on the road.
While fuel economy improved in 2016 over 2015, it wasn’t as impressive as the 3 percent increase between 2014 and 2015. The report attributed the slight slowdown to a combination of factors, including fleets eliminating some technologies, lower fuel prices resulting in a reduced focus on fuel efficiency, increased speed, older trucks and hotter weather.
Since 2012, NACFE has conducted its Annual Fleet Fuel Study to report on innovative fleets that have committed to improving fuel efficiency, and to help other fleets make decisions about adding these fuel efficiency technologies and practices in the future and provides feedback for manufacturers to improve their product’s total cost of ownership.
“We are thrilled to see that fleets are still seeing fuel economy improvements from their investments,” said Mike Roeth, executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and operation lead of Trucking Efficiency.
“While gains are smaller than in the past, any improvement in fuel economy curbs the fleet’s expenses.”