Trucking Innovation: Steering Toward a Sustainable Future With Aerodynamics

Imagine saving millions in your trucking company — not by overhauling your entire fleet, but through intelligent, incremental improvements. This is the power of trucking innovation, where even the most minor changes can drive significant impact.

Aerodynamic innovations, in particular, are turning heads for their role in steering the industry towards a more efficient and sustainable future. For example, reducing drag using a single trailer gap device can save 3-6% MPG in fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions by 20,000 lbs/yr.

In this deep dive, we’ll explore how these truck innovations are reshaping the world of trucking, highlighting the benefits not just in terms of efficiency but also for safety and sustainability.

The Importance of Innovation in Trucking

Innovation is critical to staying competitive in the trucking industry. It’s not just about adopting the latest tools and trucking trends — it’s about integrating advanced technologies and smarter logistics to improve goods movement. This approach aims to make transportation faster, safer, and more environmentally friendly.

Trucking innovation spans many technology areas, from autonomous vehicles to AI-driven operations. Efficiency is critical to innovation, as reducing time and fuel directly impacts costs. Companies can save significantly by integrating streamlined truck designs and optimized routing software into their fleets. Safety is also a major focus, with technologies aiming to protect drivers and cargo. Additionally, as environmental consciousness grows, the industry is adopting greener practices like electric trucks and sustainable fuels.

TruckLabs’ recent successful Series B funding illustrates the industry’s commitment to sustainability. Beyond financial backing, this endorsement demonstrates the potential for innovative ideas to make trucking more efficient, safer, and environmentally friendly.

Leading Trends in Trucking Innovation

Currently, the trucking industry is undergoing a technological revolution. Several innovations, such as advancements in truck fleet management and autonomous trucking, are transforming the logistics and operations sector. Let’s look at some of the top innovative trucking trends.

Advancements in Fleet Management Software

Fleet Management Systems (FMS) have evolved significantly over the years. What began as essential vehicle tracking tools have now transformed into sophisticated systems capable of managing the entire lifecycle of fleet operations. Modern FMS features include:

  • GPS tracking
  • Fuel management
  • Notifications and alerts
  • Fleet maintenance
  • Efficient route planning
  • Driver behavior monitoring systems

An FMS offers actionable insights that help fleet managers enhance safety and improve operations. These systems enable more efficient routing decisions through real-time tracking, provide timely alerts to drivers, improve time slot management, streamline delivery processes, and boost fleet efficiency.

The Rise of Autonomous Trucks

There is a significant potential for autonomous trucks to revolutionize the trucking industry. Though substantial challenges remain, including technical, regulatory, and safety concerns, the potential benefits are vast. From increased efficiency to improved safety, autonomous vehicles have the potential to make a huge impact.

In their latest testimony to Congress, the American Trucking Association (ATA) spoke about the significant role of autonomous trucks. They reported that nearly 94% of truck accidents result from human error, suggesting that self-driving technology could significantly improve road safety. The ATA also noted that these advancements can reduce traffic and lower emissions, illustrating the trucking industry’s commitment to innovation and economic growth.

Innovations in Aerodynamic Technologies

The trucking industry is rapidly advancing aerodynamic technologies. Among these truck innovations is TruckWings, an aerodynamic device that reduces drag, enhances stability, and improves fuel efficiency. When mounted on the tractor, this tool automatically closes the gap between the cab and trailer, significantly reducing drag.

TruckWings is transforming the industry with remarkable benefits, such as:

  • Fuel savings of 3-6%
  • Thousands of dollars in savings per truck and millions of dollars per fleet
  • A greener future through reduced carbon emissions

In addition to trailer aerodynamics, other aerodynamic innovations are changing the trucking industry. Add-on devices such as side skirts, boat tails, and vortex generators reduce aerodynamic drag and improve fuel efficiency. 

Moreover, aerodynamic cab designs are also emerging, with curved edges, smooth surfaces, and minimal protrusions to minimize air resistance and maximize energy efficiency. By maximizing fuel usage and reducing emissions, these features can reduce the truck’s environmental impact.

Shift to Electric Trucking Fleets

Trucking companies are increasingly transitioning towards electric trucks, driven by the potential for lower operational costs and the push for a greener future. Recent International Council on Clean Transportation studies show that battery electric trucks emit 63% less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel. Other benefits include:

  • Higher energy density
  • Enhanced safety
  • Improved fast-charging capabilities
  • More efficient use of space due to batteries taking up significantly less room

Major OEMs like Daimler, Volvo, MAN, and Renault trucks are leading the electric truck revolution, investing in production facilities, charging infrastructure, and research and development. Their efforts are paving the way for a more sustainable and efficient future in the trucking industry.

Truck Platooning Innovations

Platooning is a concept that aims to reduce traffic congestion and fuel consumption. The process involves digitally tethering lines of commercial vehicles together to optimize distances between them. Vehicles can increase aerodynamic airflow and fuel efficiency by synchronizing braking and acceleration across the platoon, leading to significant fuel savings.

Truck platooning has been the subject of numerous studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory over the years. Research reveals that fuel savings range from 4% to 17% depending on various factors, including vehicle position, speed variation, following distance, and road conditions. Efficiencies and fuel savings will likely increase as the industry explores this technology.

IoT and Telematics Integration

The Internet of Things (IoT) is significantly changing the trucking industry. IoT is an internet-connected network of physical objects — “things” — that can exchange data with other devices and systems through sensors, software, and other technologies.

A branch of IoT called telematics uses wireless devices such as GPS, accelerometers, and sensors to collect data about trucks and their environment. With fleet telematics, trucking companies can get real-time information on vehicles’ locations, movements, and status. There are a variety of applications for this data, including:

  • Fleet management: Telematics can help fleet managers monitor their vehicles in real-time, improving operational efficiency and reducing costs.
  • Predictive maintenance: Using telematics data, predictive maintenance tools can identify potential vehicle issues before they become serious problems, reducing downtime and repair costs.
  • Driver safety: Telematics can monitor driver behavior, helping to identify unsafe practices and provide coaching to improve safety.
  • Regulatory compliance: Telematics can automate many aspects of compliance with regulations like the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate, making it easier for fleets to adhere to these rules.
  • Sustainability: By providing detailed data on fuel consumption and vehicle emissions, telematics can help fleets reduce their environmental impact.

As truck innovations continue to evolve, the role of IoT and telematics will only grow more critical. These technologies offer significant opportunities for trucking companies to improve their operations, reduce costs, and enhance customer service.

The Future of Aerodynamics in Trucking Innovation

Aerodynamics for trucking holds immense promise, with aluminum and carbon fiber composites gaining much attention from the industry. These advancements, together with sustainable trucking and big data integration, offer revolutionary possibilities. Here’s a look at some possible future developments.

Emerging Trends in Aerodynamics

Revolutionary materials like Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers and Shape-memory Alloys are transforming vehicle design with benefits like weight reduction and enhanced durability. Advances in computational fluid dynamics are enabling designs that minimize drag, increasing the potential to improve fuel efficiency and vehicle performance.

Integrating Aerodynamics with Technology

Integrating aerodynamic innovations with key technologies like electrification and autonomous systems is transforming truck design. Thanks to streamlined cooling systems, electric trucks can achieve aerodynamic shapes that improve energy efficiency. Aerodynamic enhancements also improve autonomous trucks’ performance by reducing drag and optimizing energy consumption.

Sustainability and Aerodynamics

Aerodynamics is a critical component in the trucking industry’s sustainability drive, primarily by reducing air resistance to improve fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions. TruckWings exemplifies this commitment to eco-friendliness by effectively reducing CO2 emissions in diesel, alternative fuel, and electric Class 8 trucks. TruckLabs aims to save 100 million metric tons of CO2 annually, marking a substantial step towards a more sustainable future in trucking. 

Step Into The Future of Trucking Innovation With TruckLabs

At TruckLabs, we’re not just following trucking trends — we’re creating them. With groundbreaking technologies like TruckWings, we’re steering the trucking industry toward a more sustainable and efficient future. 
Join us in this journey of trucking innovation and help shape the industry’s future. Explore our resources or contact us to discover how you can contribute to a greener tomorrow.

How to Extend Electric Semi Truck Range With Aerodynamics

As electric vehicles (EVs) increase in popularity, many fleets in the trucking industry are considering electric semi trucks to increase sustainability and reduce emission levels. 

Electric trucks add new considerations to fleet management. Electric trucks have a limited range, which could negatively impact fleet efficiency. What happens if a truck is miles from home base, has a problem, and the battery is running low?

Extending the electric semi truck range can help fleets optimize efficiency and reduce risks. In this article, we’ll look closer at the electric semi truck range and explore ways to improve it.

What Is the Standard Semi Truck Range?

The range of a standard semi truck can vary depending on the size and number of its fuel tanks. Fuel tanks on these trucks commonly hold 110 to 150 gallons, and semi trucks typically have two.

Generally, semi trucks burn around six miles per gallon, making their expected range approximately 1,320 to 1,800 miles.

However, several factors can impact the range.

  • Weight: Heavy trucks burn more fuel, reducing mileage.
  • Terrain: High-incline roads increase fuel consumption, decreasing range.
  • Fuel tanks: Bigger and more spacious tanks increase available mileage and range.
  • Airflow: An aerodynamic truck consumes less fuel, resulting in a longer range.

What Is the Range of an Electric Semi Truck?

Like standard trucks, an electric semi truck’s range depends on factors like aerodynamics, terrain, and weight. However, two additional considerations unique to EVs are battery capacity and electric drivetrain efficiency.

By 2023, electric semi trucks will be available from several brands, including Tesla, Volvo, and Freightliner. Their ranges will vary based on the model.

Here are the specs on the top electric Class 8 trucks available in 2023:

MakeModelRange Charge Time
TeslaSemi500 mi.70% in 30 mins
VolvoVNR Electric275 mi.80% in 90 mins
FreightlinereCascadia155, 220, or 230 mi.0-80% in 90 mins
Peterbilt579EV150 mi.100% in 3 hrs

Electric Semi Truck Use Cases

Electric semi trucks excel in particular applications due to their shorter travel range than conventional semi trucks.

Specifically, electric trucks shine in urban delivery routes. These city routes offer more opportunities for regenerative braking and easy compliance with emissions regulations.

Additionally, port transportation is another strong fit for electric semi trucks, given the short and predictable trips between ports and nearby warehouses.

Can Aerodynamics Extend Electric Semi Truck Range?

At high speeds, overcoming drag accounts for about 65% of a typical heavy truck’s total energy consumption. As a result, reducing energy consumption is possible by improving aerodynamics—how air flows around the truck.

As EVs get more efficient, their batteries last longer. Enhanced battery life allows them to go farther between charges, effectively increasing range.

In terms of aerodynamics, electric semi trucks have a distinct advantage. Electric semis have greater design flexibility than conventional semi trucks, whose design revolves around the engine and drivetrain. The floor-mounted battery storage and smaller electric motors allow for more aerodynamic shapes. Their cooling systems also require fewer gaps and holes for radiators, reducing aerodynamic drag.

How to Increase the Range of an Electric Semi Truck

Aerodynamics plays a significant role in electric semi truck energy consumption. As such, reducing aerodynamic drag can extend their range. 

Here are three ways to increase electric semi truck range:

1. Close the Gap

Closing the gap between the tractor and trailer is a straightforward yet impactful way to improve aerodynamics. Reduced turbulence and drag translate to less energy consumption and a longer range. 

An automated gap reducer, such as TruckWings, is the optimal solution for closing this gap. This technology is proven to improve fuel economy by 3-6%, thereby noticeably extending the range of electric semi trucks.

2. Add Roof Fairings

Roof fairings provide a dual benefit: they not only improve the aerodynamics of your truck but are also a cost-effective way to increase range. These attachments streamline the truck’s shape, effectively reducing air resistance and energy consumption. 

Roof fairings are generally lightweight, easy to install, and can pay for themselves in fuel savings over time. Improving the truck’s overall efficiency extends the range and reduces operational costs.

3. Invest in a Battery Management System

Think of a Battery Management System (BMS) as the brain of your electric semi truck. It plays a critical role in maintaining and protecting the battery pack. A BMS measures parameters like cell voltage, temperature, and charging rates. 

But its capabilities go beyond simple monitoring—it actively balances the voltage between cells and manages the current drawn from each cell to maximize power and range. Plus, by preventing overcharging and over-discharging, a BMS ensures the longevity of your battery pack, protecting your investment in the long run.

Improve Your Fleet’s Semi Truck Range With TruckLabs

As more than half of the energy used by semi trucks goes toward pushing air away, reducing aerodynamic drag is essential. Aerodynamics is even more crucial in electric semi trucks since it can effectively increase range, thus improving fleet efficiency and reducing risk.

TruckWings is a solution that can significantly improve the aerodynamics of an electric semi truck, extending its range.

Check out TruckWings or contact us for more information about increasing your electric semi truck range by reducing aerodynamic drag.

8 Trailer and Semi Truck Aerodynamic Kits That Save Fleets Money


Fleet managers are always looking for ways to cut costs without compromising safety and service. Fuel costs for a single Class 8 truck can exceed $70,000 a year, so improving fuel efficiency is a top priority for fleet managers. One way to do that is to install semi truck aerodynamic kits on every truck.

Of the available energy in any big rig, 53% goes toward overcoming aerodynamic drag. Drag occurs through friction — when air contacts the surface of a moving truck — and through pressure, when airstreams separate as a truck moves through them. Semi truck aerodynamic kits can reduce both types of drag. 

In this post, we’ll cover eight types of aerodynamic kits that can help fleet managers improve fuel efficiency and decrease fuel expenditures.

What Are Semi Truck Aerodynamic Kits?

Semi truck aerodynamic kits are add-ons that reduce drag at highway speeds. Some aerodynamic kits are low-tech accessories, while others use software to intelligently deploy anti-drag hardware and collect data about truck performance. 

Kits may be available as part of an upgrade package from OEMs, or they may be after-market products. Fleet managers looking to maximize the benefits of semi truck aerodynamic kits might outfit trucks with both OEM and after-market products. 

8 Types of Trailer and Semi Truck Aerodynamic Kits

On a Class 8 truck, the tractor accounts for the most aerodynamic drag (66%), followed by the trailer axle and wheels (18%), and trailer body (16%). The greatest fuel efficiency gains come from using aerodynamic kits for each of those areas. 

Wheel Cover Kits

Available for both tractor wheels and trailer wheels, these kits reduce drag by preventing air from entering and exiting the wheel recesses. Wheel covers are easy to install, and some brands have quick-release technology for tire access. 

Vortex Generators

Vortex generators are small triangular devices that attach to the trailing edges of the tractor and trailer, and the trailer roof edges, depending on the product. They reduce drag by preventing air streams from separating as the truck moves through them.

A study by The Green Truck Initiative, an independent Australian organization that evaluates the merits of clean vehicle technologies, found that vortex generators did provide some efficiency gains. However, the results of testing varied significantly, so the study could not quantify the benefits of vortex generators.

Aero Bumpers

Because the bumper is the first part of the truck that cuts through air, its shape can affect how air moves across the truck body. Smooth “aero” bumpers — also called drive fenders — help direct air away from the truck rather than over the cab.  

Trailer Tails

Also called boat tails, trailer tails attach to the rear of the trailer to create a tapered end. First-generation trailer tails required drives to manually open and close them, which was a barrier to widespread adoption. Today, most trailer tails open automatically when a truck reaches a certain speed, although some still require manual effort to close.   

Trailer Skirts

Trailer skirts are flexible panels that attach to the side edges of the trailer and reduce ground clearance. These devices reduce the amount of air beneath the trailer, which decreases the wake behind the wheels.

Chassis Fairings

Chassis fairings are similar to trailer skirts, but they attach to the cab, enclosing the fuel tank and other components that can cause drag.  

Roof Fairings

Available as either OEM or after-market products, roof fairings are sloped attachments for the top of the cab that create a smooth transition to the trailer. Some roof fairings may be compatible with side panels that further reduce drag by narrowing the gap between the tractor and trailer. 

While side panels can reduce drag, they can also interfere with low-speed maneuverability, so they may not be ideal for urban driving. 


TruckWings is a fully automatic device that deploys at speeds above 52 mph to close the gap between tractor and trailer, reducing drag and trailer sway. When speed drops below 50 mph, the wings collapse flat against the trailer, so they don’t interfere with low-speed maneuverability. 

TotalSIM US, an independent organization that tests aerodynamic devices, verified TruckWings’ claims of 3-6% fuel savings, using computational fluid dynamics. That benefit saves large fleets millions per year on fuel costs and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 lbs/year, per truck.

The Best Way to Improve Aerodynamics

NACFE notes that there are many variables that impact the effectiveness of aerodynamic devices, and most testing occurs in “controlled, focused operating conditions.” That means results of testing might not align with the real-world ROI of certain semi truck aerodynamic kits. 

The telematic technology that powers TruckWings collects and stores data for every TruckWings-equipped semi, so customers can see the benefits. To date, TruckWings has proven its value over nearly 624 million driving miles. And when you combine TruckWings with other aerodynamic devices, the fuel savings are even greater. 
TruckWings isn’t just for diesel-powered trucks — it also helps electric trucks run farther on a single charge. That means TruckWings is an investment that can grow with fleets as they retire combustion engines and switch to greener technology. Learn more about how we can help you improve efficiency and reduce your carbon footprint.

Freightliner Validates Active Aerodynamics Role in Trucking’s Future

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. 

A Quick Guide to Improving Tractor Trailer Aerodynamics

semi truck aerodynamics

Did you know that improving trailer aerodynamics can significantly impact drag and fuel efficiency?

Aerodynamic drag is responsible for 65% of the energy used while pulling a trailer. That’s why more fleets are turning to products like trailer aerodynamic products to help reduce drag and save money on fuel costs.

But what are trailer aerodynamics, exactly?

And which product is right for your fleet?

Answering these questions requires understanding the effects of aerodynamic drag on tractor-trailers and the different types of products available to reduce it.

What Are Trailer Aerodynamics?

Trailer aerodynamics refers to the study of how air flows around and over a trailer.

When a truck moves, air resistance (or drag) slows it down and uses up fuel. Reducing drag can lower fuel consumption by up to 12%. This would save more than $10 billion in diesel fuel per year.

The Main Points of Drag on Tractor Trailers

To understand how to reduce drag, it’s essential to know where it comes from.

There are three main points of drag on tractor-trailers:

  • Back of the trailer near the doors: When air circulates around a trailer, it forms a vortex behind the rear door, causing a significant decrease in air pressure.
  • Front of the trailer near the gap: One of the worst low-pressure areas on a truck is the gap between the cabin and trailer.

Addressing these areas can significantly improve trailer aerodynamics.

Airflow Simulation

Products and Devices to Reduce Tractor-Trailer Drag

Aerodynamic devices are effective at reducing drag and improving fuel efficiency.

And the faster the speed, the more efficient they become. Many products and devices on the market can help reduce drag.

  • Trailer fairings: The trailer fairings (or skirts) keep the wind from blowing under the trailer and into the bogie. They work best when they start from the landing gear and end at the front face of the front trailer axle, close to the ground.
  • Wheel covers and mud flaps: Wheel covers are devices inserted into the wheel that help direct airflow around the tires. Mudflaps are installed behind the wheels and help deflect air away from the undercarriage.

When choosing an aerodynamic device, it’s important to remember that many will complement each other. For example, using trailer tails with wheel covers further reduces drag.

Of course, fleet owners must consider the unique needs of their operation when choosing products.

Trailers Are Only Part of the Equation

While trailer aerodynamics are important, they account for only some of the drag that impacts fuel efficiency.

The front tractor section also accounts for a significant amount of drag (about 25%). To address this, some truck manufacturers are exploring a more aerodynamic design for the front of the truck.

Some solutions include adding pedestal door mirrors and sloped-front windshields.

The gap between the cab and trailer also accounts for about 25% of the overall drag. High-speed air rushing in causes a low-pressure area which then drags on the tractor and decreases fuel economy.

Closing the gap would result in a decrease in airspeed and less turbulence downstream. Increased pressure at the back of the cab would decrease overall drag, especially where crosswinds are strong.

For fleet owners, this could mean a significant decrease in fuel consumption and savings amounting to millions of dollars each year.

Learn how Ryder Systems saved 4.1% on fuel with TruckWings.

Improve Trailer Aerodynamics and Fuel Efficiency

Cutting emissions and fuel costs is a high priority for trucking fleets.

That’s why many fleet owners are investing in trailer aerodynamic devices.

There are two types of trailer aerodynamic devices:

  • Hardware-only devices that require driver interaction.
  • Smart products that are automated and require no driver interaction.

TruckWings and TrailerTails are two devices that are sometimes confused, but there are key differences between them. TrailerTail (discontinued) was a hardware-only device installed on the back of the trailer that required the driver to close it manually. TruckWings is the only fully automated, tractor-mounted device that works without interaction, allowing for the best driver experience.

By automatically closing the gap between the cab and trailer, the device:

  • Improves stability
  • Increases fuel efficiency
  • Reduces drag

TruckWings also:

  • Operates in two positions — closed when the truck travels fast on an open highway and open when going slow or making turns
  • Uses smart sensors to track carbon and fuel savings
  • Provides uptime reporting

If you want to improve fuel efficiency, contact us to learn more about TruckWings.


How do I reduce drag on my truck trailer?

There are several ways to reduce drag on your trailer, including:

  • Adding trailer fairings (or trailer skirts) to keep the wind from blowing under the trailer and into the bogie.
  • Installing mudflaps and wheel covers to help direct airflow around the tires.
  • Adding a trailer tail to alter the airflow as it leaves the trailing edge of a truck’s side and top surfaces.

Why do truck trailers have wings?

Wings help keep the trailer more stable and improve fuel economy.

Do truck wings work?

Yes, they are an effective way to reduce drag and fuel costs. In fact, TruckWings provides potential fuel savings of 3-6% mpg with 12-18 months ROI resulting in millions of dollars saved per fleet.

Learn how Ryder Systems saved 4.1% on fuel with TruckWings.

5 Ways to Improve Semi-Truck Aerodynamics and Reduce Fuel Costs

Rising fuel prices – topping off at more than 75 percent higher than last year – have left the trucking industry scrambling for solutions to reduce fuel costs and improve the efficiency of their fleets.

Diesel prices have reached record levels and not since the 1970s has there been a tougher time to manage fuel hikes and keep trucks running.

The seemingly endless trend in the wrong direction has trucking operators turning their attention from the inside of the tank to the outside of the truck, reconsidering truck aerodynamics and new advances in products and devices that curb their losses.

The Impact of Aerodynamics on Fuel Economy

Semi-truck aerodynamics plays a large role in how fuel efficient a truck can be when traveling at high speeds along an interstate highway.

At highway speeds, a semi-truck consumes more than half of its fuel by pushing through air resistance created by the size and shape of the semi-truck and trailer. This so-called aerodynamic drag decreases fuel efficiency.

That drag is created along multiple points of the truck and trailer, including the front of the truck, the gap between the trailer and the tractor, the sides and underbody of the trailer, and the back of the trailer. The smoother the airflow around those points, the lower the drag.

Improving aerodynamics can deliver significant fuel cost savings. In fact, industry reports indicate that using multiple devices to reduce aerodynamic drag can reduce trucking industry fuel consumption by more than 12 percent – or some $10 billion in diesel fuel costs.

The Most Common Drags

Trucking companies have popularized many products over the years that improve semi-truck aerodynamics, including streamlined shields, trailer skirts, trailer tails, and devices that cover the gap between the tractor and trailer.

All are directed at reducing the percentage of drag created by each aerodynamic-resistant component of a truck and trailer.

Among the leading offenders on a truck, when it comes to wind resistance, is the gap between the tractor and the trailer, which can produce 25 percent of the overall drag. Any gap of 18 inches or more between the tractor and trailer can produce increased air resistance, researchers say. Covering the gap can reduce drag by as much as 9 percent.

The front end of a tractor also produces a significant amount of drag or about 25 percent. Many truck manufacturers are eyeing the front of the truck for more aerodynamic design, including sloped front windshields and pedestal door mirrors.

All along the side of a semi-trailer, aerodynamics are impacted, along with the underbody. Combined, that’s another 25 percent of overall drag created by a tractor-trailer rolling down a highway.

Finally, the back of the trailer creates yet another point of drag when air gets trapped around the tail.

5 Easy Ways to Improve Semi-Truck Aerodynamics

Devices on the market today can create much-improved aerodynamics on semi-trucks and are readily available. Here are five leading ways to boost fuel efficiency.

  1. Reduce the gap between truck and trailer: Using an aerodynamic device to cover the gap can significantly reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency. Trucking industry giant Ryder System, Inc. partnered with us to use our TruckWings device, which delivered them a fuel saving of 4.1 percent. TruckWings automatically deploys at speeds above 52 mph, covering the gap without any distraction to the driver, and retracts when speeds drop below 50 mph, allowing for safe maneuverability on surface streets.
  2. Reduce airflow underneath: Side skirts reduce airflow underneath trailers, leading to fuel savings of more than 4 percent, according to manufacturers.
  3. Minimize tail drag: Trailer tails, or “boat tails” that reduce turbulence can knock fuel costs down by around 6 percent for semi-trucks traveling at 65 miles per hour
  4. Check your wheels: Wheel covers allow air to flow past the tires, reducing aerodynamic drag.
  5. Make mud flaps aerodynamic: Switch from heavy, solid rubber flaps to slotted mudflaps, which allow air to pass through them.

Improve Aerodynamics, Cut Fuel Costs

In the face of unprecedented fuel costs, fleet owners are finding a growing number of options on the market for improving truck trailer aerodynamics and creating fuel-efficient designs.

Leading the way in preventing costly wind resistance is TruckWings, providing an accessible, automated aerodynamic option that can significantly trim fuel costs across an entire fleet.

Ready to face down fuel inflation? Get in touch today and learn more.

How to Harness Aerodynamics to Reduce Drag, Improve Fuel Efficiency for Fleets

Automation, Targeted Design Boost Performance by Closing the Gap

Improving fleet performance, reducing emissions and reducing fuel costs are top priorities for the trucking industry, especially as fuel costs soar and green policy pressures increase. Fleet operators searching for innovations and solutions have eyed better aerodynamics as an easy answer.

The pocket of air between the tractor and trailer – or gap – is the most common cause for drag, which costs money and wastes fuel. How to close the gap while a truck is at highway speeds, yet maintain maneuverability on surface streets has posed a challenge for operators.

Extra long, static cab extenders have provided some relief. But, while they help close the gap and reduce drag, they interfere with trailer clearance for tight turns, making them a potential nightmare for in-town driving conditions.

Automated design has uncovered a better way to close the gap. Closing the gap reduces buffeting and trailer sway in cross-winds outperforming even the longest side-extenders on the market today.

Automation in Aerodynamics Delivers New Option
Introduced by TruckLabs in 2015, TruckWings is a tractor-mounted device that has unlocked a new frontier in Class 8 efficiency through the use of active aerodynamics. Developed by hardware engineers, software developers, and data scientists to systematically manage the gap in all conditions, TruckWings is innovating the industry.
Closing the gap reduces buffeting and trailer sway in cross-winds outperforming even the longest side-extenders on the market today.

The TruckWings device requires zero driver input to deploy or retract, delivering an automated solution that keeps people and property safe, while achieving the savings and sustainability improvements fleet owners are seeking.

How Do TruckWings Work?
TruckWings is the only fully automated solution that works without driver interaction.
As a smart device, TruckWings receives real-time information about the speed of a tractor-trailer to determine when to open and close. When the vehicle reaches 52 mph, a signal is sent from the cab to automatically deploy the TruckWings. When speed dips to 50 mph or below, TruckWings automatically retract before the truck needs to make sharp turns.
The standalone TruckWings controller is installed on the truck’s CAN J1939 data link. Additionally, a sensor scans the area behind the TruckWings to ensure adequate clearance to the trailer exists.

Five of the 10 largest fleets in North America have installed TruckWings on their trucks, logging over 400 million miles. Each one makes the savings and sustainability impact of taking two vehicles off the road every year.

TruckWings reduces the energy lost in the tractor-trailer gap, lowering wind drag, improving fuel economy and reducing carbon emissions. Most fleets see 3-6% improvement in fuel efficiency. Each TruckWings device reduces 20,000 lbs/yr in carbon emissions. Analysis and customer reviews also confirm an improvement in vehicle stability at higher crosswinds by reducing the side forces acting on the trailer. This leads to improved safety and vehicle control.

As more fleet operators turn to solutions that drive down fuel costs and improve emissions rates, TruckWings automation is delivering a powerful boost to fuel efficiency and sustainability efforts.