Mercedes-Benz is presenting a design study for a new aerodynamic trailer that reduces wind resistance by as much as 18% as compared to their existing Actros trailer.
A truck that travels 93,000 miles would save 528 gallons of diesel fuel and five tons of CO2.
The “Aero Trailer” sports a number of small design improvements that allow it to cut through the air more easily. The two most significant features are those side trim panels, which reduce resistance by 8%, and the tapered rear end, which contributes another 7% reduction.
The “Aero Trailer” is still just a design concept, but Mercedes says its features would result in a 5% fuel savings. That might not sound like a lot, but a truck that travels 93,000 miles in a year would save 528 gallons of diesel fuel and five tons of carbon dioxide.
And freight trucks rack up a lot of miles in United States. According to the Department of Transportation, in 1997 approximately 21 million trucks traveled more than 412 billion miles in the United States. The DOT estimates the volume of freight will rise by 70% by 2020.
Wind resistance improvements are not going to stave off climate change by themselves, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction, given that we’re stuck moving a certain amount of stuff with these trailers for the foreseeable future.
If you’re curious, by the way, electric (and hydrogen) freight trucks do exist. The Port of Los Angeles has been experimenting with them since 2008. They just can’t go very far.