Seeing success, but there’s still work to be done

We’ve been busy lately releasing two Confidence Reports in the last two months — one on low rolling resistance tires and the other on lightweighting. We also have two others, one on downspeeding and one on maintenance, nearly complete and have assembled study teams for deep dives into tractor aerodynamics, trailer aerodynamics and oil. Oh yeah, and we are also gearing up for our 7th workshop. This one is in Charlotte, NC at Hendrick Motorsports. We’ll be there September 15 to discuss a host of fuel-efficient technologies.

Following the release of the Confidence Report on low rolling resistance tires, I reached out to several of the tire manufacturers to get their reaction to it. I always like to check in with folks intimately involved with a technology to see if we hit the mark with our findings. The tire manufacturers I spoke were quite complimentary about the report. And I was pleasantly surprised to see how seriously they took one of our recommendations. The study team found that one of the things that would make the whole area of low rolling resistance tires less confusing was more transparency by the tire manufacturers on the rolling resistance coefficient for all their tires, once industry-wide collaborations and agreements to standardize testing protocols are achieved.

One of the tire manufacturers went so far as to have an internal meeting to discuss the subject. And while the ultimately decided not to respond to our challenge, I was encouraged that they felt the need to at least discuss it based on our recommendations.  Another made it clear in the marketplace they many of their LRR tires perform well below the EPA SmartWay minimum.

It’s nice to know people are actually reading our reports. I sometimes worry about that. But I’ve gotten feedback from a couple other places that our work has had real-world implications. UPS told us that they bought tire pressure inflation systems for their trailers based on our Confidence Report on tire pressure systems. And Orscheln shared that they stapled our Confidence Report on 6x2 axles to a request for funds for new trucks spec’d with 6x2 axles and all trucks purchased in 2015 were 6x2s.

So I am pleased that our reports are making a difference, and that we’ve moving away from just being seen as just a source of information to being a force for action and change.

But we are not going to let all this success go to our heads. We know we’ve got miles to go and many more technologies to study if we are going to meet our goal of doubling freight efficiency. And we’ll continue to work hard to make sure you get the unbiased information you need to make smart choices about deploying the wide variety of fuel savings technologies currently on the market.

TAGS: Equipment
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