Traxen
Walker and his team expanded iQ Cruise across 40 trucks—all averaging 6 to 7% savings. He intends to eventually install the system on 450 trucks.

Increase fuel efficiency through advanced cruise control

Jan. 3, 2024
A car hauling trucking company sees fuel economy increases of up to 7% after installing cruise control system that uses 3D mapping and radar to manage speed.

IQ Cruise

“We look at interesting technologies that we think have a good impact to the environmental space,” Tim Bauer, Eaton North America VP of aftermarket, told FleetOwner. “The Traxen IQ cruise system is one that we've really felt had huge opportunity and benefit for the market as we think about sustainability, fuel, fuel economy improvements, and the unique way that technology leverages some of the installed technologies already on vehicles to gain incremental benefits for the fleet owners.”

The Traxon iQ Cruise system accomplishes some of these aspects by managing speed through an electronic control unit like adaptive cruise control, but with the addition of external inputs, such as road conditions, traffic radars, and 3D mapping, Bauer said. As a result, trucks achieve greater fuel efficiency.

Some of the highest costs for fleets are in their drivers, fuel, and tires, and the iQ Cruise can help address those top two. It helps drivers in many ways that can be described simply as controlling speed while letting the driver focus on the task at hand. But to be more precise, iQ Cruise does more than control speed in the way a traditional cruise control system, or even an adaptive cruise control system, works.

See also: Roeth: Working together for the environment and profit

Using 3D mapping and radar, the iQ Cruise system monitors the road and its conditions. For instance, the system will “prepare for a grade that might be coming up in a few miles” by managing speed. Then, as it goes down that grade, it manages the distance between the vehicle and the truck to allow for what I'll call 'safe operation,'” Bauer said.

It maintains this safe following distance by also considering the weight the tractor is hauling. This is important for trucks because where a typical cruise control system’s only job is maintaining speed, and where an adaptive cruise control system maintains speed while maintaining a preset following distance, the iQ Cruise maintains that speed and follows at a distance that’s safe for the driver according to the weight hauled.

Bauer did emphasize that although the system does have a safety element to it, it isn’t a safety device, and its primary role is to predict road conditions to better manage fuel efficiency. As a result, trucks consume less fuel, which gives fleets better MPG, spewing fewer harmful emissions—not to mention the fuel savings also equates to cost savings. 

In the field

Jason Walkers expectations running car haulers with iQ Cruise were low. Traxen claimed the system could improve trucks’ fuel economy by 10%, and he thought that was “unattainable.” But he decided to test the system. Walker explained that because car haulers get terrible mileage, even an improvement of 5% would be beneficial. It also helped that the Traxen team appeared “very capable” and “very confident” in their product, Walker said, which gave him a “degree of comfortability in moving forward with the with the test.”

Walker first tested two trucks for six weeks on weekends taking “trips to nowhere,” he said, just to see how well the system performed. These first tests generated about 7% fuel economy savings, Walker said.

“We would run the two trucks, and if those two trucks got a 5 to 10% fuel economy savings, that would trigger us to say, ‘Let's keep expanding the test,’” Walker explained.

They expanded the test to five trucks, which also maintained a 6 to 7% savings. They then expanded to 10 trucks, which, again, met Walker’s expectations. Finally, Walker and his team expanded iQ Cruise across 40 trucks—all averaging 6 to 7% savings. He intends to eventually install the system on 450 trucks. United Road plans to install the iQ Cruise on its company trucks, but the company is also having conversations with its owner-operator partners to see if installing the system on their trucks would provide additional fuel savings, as well.

See also: The humanless difference: Autonomous efficiency goes beyond fuel savings

Walker believes the company could see even more savings because his drivers are only using the system 45% of the “eligible time.

“Despite not using (iQ Cruise) 100% of the time, we are still seeing 6.5% fuel economy savings,” Walker told FleetOwner. “The technology works. I can state that definitively the technology works. (The challenge is) making sure that the drivers are willing to change their behaviors.

“So just imagine, if we take that utilization from 45% to 80%, then we will indeed get the 10-plus percent fuel company savings Traxen claimed,” Walker said.

To encourage drivers to use the iQ Cruise system for 100% of the eligible time, Walker chose to offer more information and data to his drivers so that they could see the benefits of iQ Cruise for themselves.

“One of the things that we have been able to show them is that, if we let the system do what it's designed to do, then their overall average speed, their average miles per hour are actually higher than when they are manually accelerating and decelerating,” Walker said. “That has helped get over that driver reluctance and that driver skepticism because they can see the ... results for their truck.”

The iQ Cruise system can be easily installed as an aftermarket device and can tap into a truck’s existing adaptive cruise or radar system. If no current systems or radars exist, complete installation takes only 2.5 hours, Bauer said.  

Traxen has been in the process of testing the iQ Cruise system with many fleets and shared with FleetOwner that these fleets are interested in the system because of the profitability benefits and the sustainability benefits.

If you're consuming less fuel, it makes your fleet greener,” Bauer said. “Less fuel means less greenhouse gas in terms of fuel getting burned, and ... for me, it almost feels as important moving forward as the fuel economy.” 

About the Author

Jade Brasher

Senior Editor Jade Brasher has covered vocational trucking and fleets since 2018. A graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in journalism, Jade enjoys telling stories about the people behind the wheel and the intricate processes of the ever-evolving trucking industry.    

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