Study digs into fuel efficiency efforts

March 11, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN. The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) provided details on what it described as the “most comprehensive study of Class 8 fuel efficiency adoption ever conducted.” The results were discussed at the 2013 Technology and Maintenance Council annual meeting here.

The Updated 2013 Fuel Efficiency Benchmark Study found an increased rate of adoption and improved fuel consumption of the over 41,000 tractors and 125,000 trailers surveyed across 10 of the largest fleets in North America. The study included regional and long-haul tractors and trailers in dry goods and refrigerated cargo movement and included data covering an eight-year period.

The report found that these fleets were saving on average $5,700 per year or $22,800 over four years in fuel expense. This is a $1,300 savings per truck per year change from the 2011 Fleet Fuel Efficiency Benchmark Study using the original eight fleets’ data.

It analyzed the adoption of 60 known technologies and practices available to fleets over the past eight years. Technology implementation experiences and best practices were identified and shared by these fleets in terms of how they manage fuel expenses and opportunities to reduce them. The study also offers insights for others considering the adoption of these products and practices, and gives feedback to manufacturers on customer requirements and expectations for future products, NACFE said.

The study found that the average purchased adoption rate of these products increased from 31% to 50% over the period of 2003 through 2012 and the average fuel economy performance of the trucks improved 0.53 mpg against a “business as usual prediction” for emissions technologies and very limited adoption.

“One of the most insightful findings and useful data for all stakeholders from the report is the detailed technology adoption experience by the fleets, this can be used by your team to identify how your particular strategies match the other fleets in the study,” said Mike Roeth, executive director of NACFE.

Fleet operating practices, including technologies such as speed limiting, utilization of routing software systems, driver training and others, were universally adopted at about 90%, the organization said.

Tires and wheels including wide-base tires, low rolling resistance duals, aluminum wheels and tire inflation and monitoring systems, have made the most dramatic improvement in adoption moving as a group from 15% to about 35%. Trailer aerodynamics was found to be an emerging area with very low adoption due to the relative recent introduction (since 2007) of many of the devices. Fleets are choosing to add them 20% of the time on new trailers.

“We’re data-driven at Ryder, so we saw immediate value in quality data 2013 Fleet Fuel Efficiency Benchmark Study about what other good companies are doing,” said Scott Perry, vice president of vehicle supply management, Ryder Management Inc. “That in turn will benefit everyone, because when manufacturers have more confidence about the market for their solutions, they can make investments that bring down costs. We can also have more informed conversations with regulators and take a more focused approach to influencing public policy in areas such as alternative fuels.”

A summary of the study’s findings is available on the NACFE homepage at Details can be obtained as a package with the full report, data set along with membership to the NACFE Academy; an online University for freight efficiency.

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