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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

U.S., Industry Team On New Truck Tech

The United States could save nearly 1 billion gallons of fuel annually by adopting new aerodynamic technologies on tractor-trailer trucks, according to a two-year collaborative studyconducted by members of the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) and theU.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Four TMA members -- International Truck and Engine Corp., Freightliner LLC, Mack Trucks, Inc. and Volvo Trucks North America --comprising 75 percent of the U.S. market for Class 8 trucks, teamed with the DOE to study a variety of design improvements that would reduce aerodynamic drag and significantly improve fuel efficiency.

"We are pleased to see the fuel-savings fruits of this collaborativeeffort between government and industry," says Robert Clarke, president ofthe Truck Manufacturers Association. "We hope and expect that the resultsof this joint effort will lead to the implementation of more aerodynamic technologies on tractor-trailer trucks, which directly contributes to ournation's goal of energy independence and cleaner air."

Technologies that improve truck aerodynamics in several key areas were displayed today outside the U.S. DOE headquarters, including:

* Gap Enclosure -- reduces aerodynamic drag in the gap between the tractor and trailer
* Side Skirts -- improves aerodynamics and reduces airflow under the trailer in crosswinds
* Boat Tails -- tapers back of trailer to minimalize "wake" airflow
* Side Mirror Design -- reconfigures shape and support systems to reduce aerodynamic drag

The two-year study was funded by the U.S. Department of EnergyFreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Office through the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Clarke applauded the government-industry joint effort, saying, "The truck manufacturing community greatly values thegovernment's support of efforts like this one and looks forward to expanding the scope of cooperative research in the future."

The combined effect of all aerodynamic improvements on one vehiclecould result in as great as 23 percent reduction in aerodynamic drag. Forevery 2 percent reduction in aerodynamic drag, there is a 1 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.

"To put this in perspective, if every tractor/van semi-trailer combination truck in operation in the U.S. adopted these technologies and improved fuel efficiency by 10 percent, it would translate into nearly onebillion gallons per year of fuel savings. These small improvements collectively could make a huge difference in reducing fuel use," says Clarke.


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