Big-rig trucks have long faced an intractable problem: they need a large gap between the tractor and trailer to allow turning at low speeds. But at high speeds, airflow into this gap creates drag and wastes fuel.
At TruckLabs, we fixed this problem back in 2016.
Our solution, TruckWings, deploys when a truck is moving above 50 mph to streamline the airflow at high speeds, when aerodynamics matter, and then automatically retracts when a truck slows down to allow the driver to make turns. We have installed TruckWings on six of the ten largest fleets in North America and have proven results of 3-6% in overall fuel savings.
In 2023, Daimler/Freightliner agreed with us!
Seven years later, we’re thrilled to see our concept validated by one of the world’s largest truck manufacturers, Daimler Truck.
They recently unveiled their concept truck, whose development could be funded by the Department of Energy’s SuperTruck program aimed at improving heavy-duty truck freight efficiency. The truck has an active gap-closing device much like our TruckWings. These “wings” do exactly what we describe: when you travel at highway speeds, the sides and top fold out to close the gap and save an impressive amount of fuel.
As Daimler Truck clearly understands, the gap between the tractor and the trailer is one of the best opportunities to improve semi-truck aerodynamics, especially on day cabs and CNG/Electric trucks where the gaps are very large. Covering the gap can reduce drag by as much as 9 percent in regular conditions, and by even more during crosswinds.
Validation that Wings Are Essential
The “wings” on Daimler’s Freightliner SuperTruck validate what TruckLabs has known since 2016: closing the tractor-trailer gap works to reduce fuel usage. The NACFE has said it; we have said it (and proven it with an external CFD assessment from TotalSIM); and now Daimler Truck is saying it: we need to close the gap to improve fuel efficiency and emissions.
Fleet owners don’t have to wait for this conceptual prototype to go into production to start improving fuel efficiency on their trucks.
They can get the benefits of the futuristic Freightliner SuperTruck today. TruckWings are available today for trucks of all fuel types, including diesel, CNG, and electric. TruckWings units are standard “drop-in” products that work across multiple OEM trucks for day cabs, sleepers, and reefers. Not only have TruckWings been validated by multiple OEM-level tests, they have been successfully deployed on trucks traveling over 600 million miles–and counting.
So congratulations to Daimler on their Freightliner SuperTruck. Welcome to the world we know and love of active aerodynamics.