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Rocketail offers ‘next generation’ aerodynamics for rear drag reduction

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The patent-pending hinge system allows trailer doors to open all the way. (Courtesy: ROCKETAIL)

SAN DIEGO — Rocketail, makers of aerodynamic tail systems for semi-trailers, has launched its Rocketail Wing, what the company calls the next generation rear drag reduction technology for trailers.

The Rocketail system is a verified EPA SmartWay trailer rear fairing technology for heavy-duty truck trailers that has exhibited a certified fuel efficiency improvement of over 3.58 gallons per 1,000 miles.

“Rocketail solves the ‘three D’s’ essential to performance for any aerodynamic tail system; drag, deployment and damage,” said Michael Militello, Rocketail CEO.  “Our Rocketail Wing is integrated with the trailer door, so it’s always deployed, it extends a mere 14 inches from the rear of the trailer eliminating a main cause of rear collision damage in current tail systems, and it delivers proven drag-reducing performance.”

Featuring a “breakthrough” jet wing design, the one-piece airfoil was certified by MVT Solutions to provide a fuel economy improvement of 3.36 percent and by PIT Group to improve fuel efficiency by 3.30 percent in testing.

Constructed of lightweight high-impact, gas-infused polymers that are internally cross-braced, the wing-shaped airfoil has a compact footprint with no additional external or internal moving parts. It extends only 14 inches from the rear of the trailer compared to as much as four feet for other rear drag solutions on the market.

Militello said the Rocketail Wing is always deployed using unique swing-hinges that lock the wings in their maximum aerodynamic open position each time the doors are closed. The system shifts the wings flush with the sides of the trailer each time the doors are opened, allowing the doors to swing a full 270 degrees without being blocked.

Each Rocketail Wing attaches without guy-wires or struts with just two industrial-grade, stainless steel hinges. Installation, requiring only drill bits and tightening tools, takes two people about one hour to complete. Each wing weighs less than 25 pounds and requires minimal to no annual maintenance.

“Rocketail is maximally effective because its multi-element airfoil design has unique patented features that smooth and redirect rearward airflow behind a trailer while producing forward lift, similar to a wing on a jet aircraft,” Militello said. “Additionally, placing the device one inch away from the trailer wall avoids having the boundary air layer interact with higher volume, more uniform airflow. These two design features enable Rocketail to have a profile that’s 50 percent to 80 percent smaller than competitive designs.”

For more information about the Rocketail Wing or about Rocketail, visit www.rocketail.com.

 

 

 

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ACT Research says preliminary January trailer orders show 7% drop from December

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An ACT Research executive said with backlogs extending through the year for dry vans and reefers, OEMs would likely need to quickly open 2020 orderbooks to allow for further backlog growth in the near-term. (Courtesy: GREAT DANE)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — ACT’s preliminary estimate for January 2019 net trailer orders is 25,800 units.

Final volume will be available later this month.

ACT said its methodology allows it to generate a preliminary estimate of the market that should be within +/- 3 percent of the final order tally.

“While the industry had the weakest January order volume since 2016, it was still sufficient enough to generate very minor orderboard growth,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s Director of CV transportation analysis and research. “January net orders were off 7 percent versus December and 35 percent down year-over-year. Slower dry van and reefer trailer volume contributed to the declines. Indications are lower orders were not the result of weak fleet demand, as some OEMs report unwillingness to accept additional orders that would extend orderboards that, according to some reports, already fill available 2019 build slots.”

Maly also noted that the slight gain in the orderboard means that January was the third consecutive month that the industry posted an all-time record backlog, although the pace of improvement is beginning to wane.

“With backlogs extending through the year for dry vans and reefers, OEMs would likely need to quickly open 2020 orderbooks to allow for further backlog growth in the near-term,” he said. “Also, although the industry reported the highest monthly cancellations since August 2016, the rate of cancellations versus the orderboard remains well within acceptable limits.”

ACT Research is a leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

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BestDrive opens locations in Texas, Arkansas and California

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The Best Drive staff stands outside the Los Angeles location. It is the company’s first location in California. (Courtesy: BEST DRIVE)

FORT MILL, S.C. — BestDrive, a commercial tire dealer and retreader focusing on Continental tire offerings, opened locations in Houston, Los Angeles and Little Rock, Arkansas, in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The openings included the retailer’s first stores in California and Arkansas.

Established in 2010, BestDrive now has 31 commercial tire centers across 17 states.

“BestDrive is committed to serving fleets across the U.S. with new tires, retreads, and tire monitoring technology,” said Sonny Simpson, managing director of BestDrive. “We continue to add locations to support our goal of delivering the lowest overall driving cost to local and national fleet customers.”

BestDrive commercial tire centers offer total fleet tire management with Continental, General Tire, and AmeriSteel brand products, as well as other supplemental tire brands, Simpson said. The dealerships equip fleets with new tires and ContiTread retread solutions as part of the ContiLifeCycle program, designed to lower costs and prolong the life of a Continental tire.

In addition to new and retread tires, BestDrive can help fleets select and implement innovative technology such as ContiPressureCheck tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), ContiConnect® remote digital tire monitoring, ContiPressureCheck Solo trailer TPMS, and Continental’s VDO Roadlog for ELD Mandate compliance. These solutions will help businesses reduce tire-related breakdowns, eliminate manual tire pressure checks, improve fuel efficiency, and extend the life of tires and casings.

Services available at all BestDrive outlets include commercial tire mounting, dismounting, and balancing, 24-hour service, wheel refinishing, new and used wheels, air-up programs, commercial truck alignments and fleet checks. The stores also offer passenger, light truck, material handling, and OTR tires.

For the most up-to-date list of locations, please visit bestdrivetire.com.

 

 

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Self-driving truck company TuSimple raises $95 million in Series D funding

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TuSimple is developing a commercial-ready Level 4 (SAE) fully-autonomous driving solution for the logistics industry. TuSimple is the only self-driving truck company capable of driving from depot-to-depot without human intervention and does so every day for its customers. (Courtesy: TUSIMPLE)

SAN DIEGO — TuSimple, a global self-driving truck company, has raised $95 million in Series D funding based on a pre-money valuation of $1 billion.

The new capital investment will be used to fund TuSimple’s commercial ramp-up and product development.

With this round, TuSimple will continue to grow its commercial autonomous fleet, which makes daily fully-autonomous deliveries in Arizona, and soon in Texas, for large shippers and fleets, according to Dr. Xiaodi Hou, founder, president and chief technology officer.

The fleet allows the company to earn revenue while validating its SAE Level 4 fully-autonomous system, he said.

The company currently has 12 contracted customers and is making three to five delivery trips per day. It will use the funds to grow the fleet to over 50 trucks by June.

The investment will also be used to fund critical joint production programs with its OEM, Tier 1, and sensor partners in order to achieve full commercialization, Hou said. Suppliers essential to truck manufacturing are working with TuSimple on the integration of autonomous software with powertrain, braking and steering systems, an essential step for the commercial production and operation of self-driving trucks.

The $95 million financing was completed in December 2018.

This brings TuSimple’s total funding to date to $178 million. This latest round was led by Sina Corp., a technology company widely recognized for developing Weibo, a social media platforms. Composite Capital, a Hong Kong-based investment firm focused on consumer, technology and transportation companies globally also participated in this round.

“TuSimple consistently reaches their milestones on and ahead of schedule and we are confident that they are poised to bring the first commercial self-driving trucks to market,” said Colin Xie, vice general manager, investment department, Sina Corp. “We are focused on finding the global leaders in artificial intelligence and TuSimple is ahead of the pack. The combination of technical excellence and an impressive leadership team has propelled the company into unicorn status.”

“Autonomous driving is one of the most complex AI systems humans have ever built. After three years of intense focus to reach our technical goals, we have moved beyond research into the serious work of building a commercial solution,” Hou said. “We are thankful for the continued support of our investors and partners. This is not only a great sign of confidence in TuSimple, but also for the future of autonomous trucking.”

TuSimple’s Level 4 fully-autonomous semi-trucks are the only trucks capable of driving from depot-to-depot without human intervention, Hou said.

To support Level 4 driving on complex highway and local streets, the company has developed an innovative camera-centric perception solution that allows TuSimple’s trucks to see 1,000 meters ahead of the vehicle, Hou said, noting that the vision range is farther and delivers better visibility than any other autonomous driving system today.

This level of performance is essential for autonomous commercial trucks to operate safely at highway speeds — rain or shine, he said.

“TuSimple is aiming to transform the $800-billion U.S. trucking industry by increasing safety, lowering costs, reducing carbon emissions and providing tools to optimize fleet logistics for operators,” Hou said.

TuSimple is headquartered in San Diego and operates self-driving trucks out of Tucson, Arizona.

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