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The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), a self-proclaimed unbiased and fuel agnostic organization, recently released their Annual Fleet Fuel Study that surveyed roughly 4% of the nation's fleets at the end of 2018. Twenty North American fleets operating Class 8 tractor-trailers participated in the study. The study looked at trends in technologies that save fuel and found that predictive cruise control was the fuel-saving technology with the most penetration amongst the surveyed fleets in 2018. Nearly 76% of the fleets employed predictive cruise control, which uses topographical GPS to aid cruising speed efficiency.
The fuel-saving technology with the most growth in 2018 were tractor gap reducers, which lessen the space between the tractor and trailer, thus reducing wind drag. NACFE found that 8% of surveyed fleets had tractor gap reducers, representing an increase of 1,839% over the prior year.
The use of tractor solar panels also significantly increased between 2017 and 2018. Solar panels have been shown to result in extended battery and alternator life as well as less idling. The study found that solar panels were installed on 6.4% of surveyed fleets, representing a jump of 126% from 2017.
Other technologies showing a large year-to-year increase in adoption were:
Interestingly, the study also showed a handful of fuel-saving technologies that lost popularity between 2017 and 2018. For example, the use of aluminum-wheel trailers decreased by 30%. Painting trucks a light color for less heat absorption also fell out of favor, showing an 18% decline in adoption as compared to the year prior.
As an overarching data point, the study found that fleets' adoption of fuel-saving technologies went from 17% in 2003 to 44% in 2018. With a look toward the future, the report noted that continued technological innovations could up the average mpg to between 8.3 and 10.1.
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