Vehicle Parts and Equipment to Conserve Fuel
Vehicle fleet managers and drivers can conserve fuel and maximize their operational efficiency by outfitting their vehicles with parts and equipment that save fuel. Implementing fuel-efficient strategies, systems, and programs for some or all vehicles can help fleets monitor and manage their vehicles and vehicle-related costs better. These strategies are cost-efficient and do not require extended vehicle downtime.
Low Rolling Resistance Tires
Rolling resistance is the energy lost from drag and friction of a tire rolling over a surface. This phenomenon is complex, and nearly all operating conditions vary how much energy is lost. With the exception of all-electric vehicles, passenger vehicles use about 3%–11% of their fuel just to overcome tire rolling resistance. For heavy trucks, this consumption can be higher, around 15%–30%. Installing low rolling resistance tires can improve fuel economy by an average of about 3% for light-duty vehicles (LDVs) and more than 10% for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs).
In Class 8, replacing traditional dual tires with one super-single (also called wide-base or single-wide) tires can save fuel by reducing vehicle weight and rolling resistance, which means the engine doesn't need to work as hard. A super-single tire is not quite as wide as the sum of the two tires, so there is a slight aerodynamic benefit as well, further improving vehicle efficiency. Using super-single tires can improve fuel efficiency by 6%–9%.
Aerodynamic Equipment and Vehicle Design
By reducing the drag, or resistance, imposed on a vehicle traveling at high speeds, aerodynamic equipment eases the load on the engine and improves the fuel economy of a vehicle. Airfoils, trailer gap reducers, side skirts, and tails are examples of aerodynamic equipment that fleets can install on trucks. Airfoils direct air over the cab, trailer gap reducers reduce the space between the cab and the trailer, side skirts (a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency verified aerodynamic technology) limit the air that circulates under the trailer, and tails reduce the turbulent airstreams dragging behind the trailer.
Many LDV and HDV manufacturers are developing streamlined vehicle designs that reduce drag on vehicles. More information on aerodynamic equipment for heavy-duty vehicles can be found in Transport Canada’s review.
Idle Reduction Equipment
Auxiliary power units (APUs), bunk heaters, batteries, and other idle reduction equipment can help reduce idling and save fuel.
Long-haul fleets can take advantage of electrified parking spaces, also known as truck stop electrification, which provide power to necessary systems such as heating, air conditioning, or appliances without idling the engine. Fleets can also install equipment on vehicles to improve their efficiency and conserve fuel, such as fleets in Canyon County, Idaho, and St. Louis, Missouri, have done. Many of these investments have short payback periods.
Fuel-Tracking Devices and Telematics Systems
Data collection devices installed in vehicles can track fuel economy, maintenance schedules, and fleet performance to help fleets monitor fuel consumption, improve fuel economy, and increase asset utilization.
GPS-based telematics systems that plug into the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system monitor miles driven, idle time, fuel economy, and engine maintenance requirements. Many of these telematics systems are paired with powerful software packages or driver training programs to help track vehicle activity and manage fuel consumption. Many devices give drivers real-time fuel economy feedback, which has proven effective in reducing fuel use.
To determine what telematics systems data to focus on, a fleet should identify their top priorities; for example, idle reduction or more efficient routing. A fleet can then work with a telematics provider to determine key performance indicators and extract the most important data. This planning will help a fleet use the data to deliver efficiency improvements. Learn how Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County, California, saved $354,000 in six months through telematics.
Speed Control Modules
Fleet managers can install electronic speed control modules to prevent vehicles from traveling faster than a specific speed, which can conserve fuel and promote safer driving practices. For example, Braun's Express installed electronic control module systems in each of their short-haul and long-haul freight trucks to control fuel consumption and limit speeding. By reducing the speed limit of their vehicles from 70 to 65 miles per hour, Braun’s increased overall fuel economy by an estimated 0.5 miles per gallon of fuel for each vehicle.
Synthetic oils can improve fuel economy in light-duty vehicles by reducing friction in the engine. Learn more about synthetic oils.