MPG: 6 - 8 - 10

Sept. 8, 2014

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reports that the approximate 1.5 million tractors in over-the-road use averaged about 5.9 mpg in 2012. The American Transportation Research Institute reported that the cost per mile for fuel in 2012 was $0.64, and using $4/gal that equates to 6.2 mpg.  So, the overall efficiency of the U.S. fleet currently is about 6 miles per gallon.  Of course, we all know that each truck’s performance depends on many things:  features specified when it was purchased, age of the truck, types of goods hauled, geography and on and on. 

This past week, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency issued our third annual report on the uptake and results of 10 fleets’ adoption of 66 technologies over the past 11 years. These fleets are averaging about 6.8 mpg with new trucks in the population approaching 8 mpg. And one fleet the group follows has about 75 new 2014 model trucks delivering about 8.5 mpg.  So, new trucks being followed in this effort are approaching 8 miles per gallon.

This is a great trend, one that saves significant fuel expense and reduces the amount of exhaust emitted. The difference in annual fuel cost for a truck getting 8 mpg versus one at 6, assuming 110,000 miles driven per year and $4/gal diesel fuel is $18,000!

How high can we go? I am not sure, but recently I know of a few drivers/trucks and projects that are doing even better.

  • Steve Kron, an owner operator friend running loads to the west coast from Wisconsin weekly, shared a 10.04 mpg 60 day average for May/June.  He runs an older 2002 model year truck.
  • We talk to Jim Bauman monthly about his new 2014 tractor with many fuel efficiency features. He and his wife drive over 200,000 miles per year, hauling heavy and lighter loads from N.C. to the northwest, and for June through August they averaged 9.2 mpg.
  • Henry Albert reports via the Freightliner Team Run Smart numbers consistently in the 10-mpg range.
  • And finally, we have SuperTruck, the Department of Energy’s collaboration with the industry to produce trucks with a 50% improvement in freight efficiency. Earlier this year the Cummins Peterbilt team reported real world freight mpg of 10.7.

So, I’ll offer here that we are very close to seeing 10 miles per gallon!

For a complete copy of the NACFE Fleet Fuel Report go to or download it here.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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