Trailer with aerodynamic tail reduces fuel consumption by 6%

19 January 2012 by M&C

TNT Express successfully tested an aerodynamic trailertail called ‘EcoTail’ on the trailer of one of its trucks, which reduced fuel consumption by 6 percent. Designed by ATDynamics (USA) together with the TU Delft spin-off company Ephicas, EcoTail is a foldable and retractable rear wing attached at the end of the trailer. The five-month trial measured both fuel savings and the usability of the EcoTail by the driver whilst on the road. Over this five month period, a truck with EcoTail travelled daily between the Dutch towns of Ede and Duiven.


Photograph: Jorrit Lousberg

Over 6% saving

Trucks simply guzzle fuel because of their non-efficient aerodynamics. Ephicas creates innovative solutions for trailers, which contribute to fuel savings and a better environment. The operational tests showed 1.65 litre of fuel was saved per 100 km, on a routing over the highway. Furthermore, the operational functionality of the EcoTail was tested. The EcoTail did not pose the driver any problems nor caused it any delay while docking, loading or delivering. A simple adjustment to the door hinges prevents that the doors, which become slightly heavier, suddenly open quite abruptly. Irma Blanke, Director Operations & Services TNT Express Benelux: 'Savings on the fuel cost is an interesting business case, but also helps us to reach our goal of decreasing the CO2 emissions of our operations.'

Not yet on the road

Ephicas had to request permission from the ‘Dienst Wegverkeer’ (RDW) to be able to run the TNT Express pilot, since in The Netherlands the maximum length of a truck is legally regulated. A truck with trailer can be no longer than 16.5 m, for instance. The EcoTail however sticks out almost 1.5 m and surpasses the maximum length. After safety tests proved that road users were not in danger, the RDW allowed a temporary exemption, also since these tests comply with the Transport White Paper targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 60%. Gandert Van Raemdonck of Ephicas explains about the EcoTail use on the road: 'We are very happy with the tests and the collaboration with the RDW and TNT Express. During the operational tests, the driver was not hindered at all, nor delayed because of the EcoTail. The results prove that a simple innovation can significantly reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.'

The next step will be to extend the Ecotail test to multiple vehicles, with domestic and international destinations. Ephicas, together with partner PART (Platform for Aerodynamic Road Transport), is also in talks with policy makers in Brussels to adjust regulations regarding maximum vehicle length towards the use of aerodynamic tools.

Check also this 2088 press release on research done by Ephicas (2008): Aerodynamic trailer cuts fuel and emissions by up to 15%

© 2014 TU Delft

Metamenu