San Diego, CA. Tractor aerodynamics company, FlowBelow, held a press conference Saturday afternoon here at the ATA Management Conference & Exhibition to announce that Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) is currently installing FlowBelow Tractor AeroKits on all its trucks. According to FlowBelow, MVT expects to save in excess of $1M per year on fuel (or about 300,000 gallons of diesel) by installing the AeroKits on its more than 1,200 tractors.
Since the AeroKit is mounted to the tractor rather than the trailer, the fleet also expects a faster payback than they have seen from the aerodynamic technologies already installed on their trailers. The payback period is expected to be less than one year for the new AeroKits.
Each Kit consists of Quick-Release Wheel Covers and Tandem Fairings, designed to fill the gaps between and behind the tractor’s drive wheels. They work together as a system to guide airflow smoothly along the sides and past the tandem area of the truck. An AeroKit can usually be installed by one technician in 30-45 minutes according to the company.
MVT, well-known for its pursuit of fuel efficiency, had already achieved nearly nine miles per gallon on average before deciding to install the FlowBelow system, but the fleet has its sights set on breaking the ten MPG barrier. “The more efficient we are, the more competitive we can be,” said Royal Jones, CEO of MVT. “But getting to this point has not been easy. We are always skeptical of the numbers vendors give us, so after FlowBelow provided their test results [an additional 2.23% in fuel savings according to SAE J1321 fuel economy testing using MVT’s own trucks and trailers] we actually went back and did additional SAE fuel economy testing ourselves to verify the savings.”
Allan Dahringer, MVT’s director of maintenance, noted that the AeroKit’s design and durability were as important as the fuel savings when it came to making the purchase decision. “FlowBelow’s product is durable and their quick-release design means that they are hassle free when we need to check the wheel end or install chains,” he noted.
Sales of FlowBelow’s Tractor AeroKits have been growing steadily and are on-target to reach 18,000 to 20,000 units in 2015 alone, according to G. Bren Marshell, v.p. of sales for the three-year-old company. One of the reasons fleets are so interested in aerodynamics now, he told the audience, is because they can give fleets enough extra profit to be able to reward good drivers with higher pay and other incentives—critical today with drivers in such short supply and high demand.
Company co-founder and president, Josh Butler, noted that the FlowBelow AeroKits are also appreciated by drivers for the way they enhance stability and reduce splash and spray to improve visibility when roads are wet.