Another Innovator Makes MPG Gains

July 13, 2015
I always like to hear about folks in the real world making strides in the area of fuel economy improvements. I think sometimes we get too caught up in what the really big fleets are doing that we forget there are a lot of smaller operators out there doing some amazing things.One place I go to when I want to hear about some innovative thinking is to the 9+ MPG Club on Facebook. It’s a closed group but it’s dedicated to “those who have high fuel mileage goals in trucking (not just 9 mpg).” So if you’re into better freight efficiency apply to be part of the group.The other day Jim Briggs, a member of the group, wrote about his dad’s 6x4 to 4x2 conversion. He explained that his dad never hauls more than 30,000 lbs. and decided it was time to eliminate an axle. Prior to making the change, Jim says, his dad averaged 7.2 to 7.5 mpg. After he deleted the axle, with his first three fill ups he saw mpg levels of 7.99, 8.73 and 8.21. Jim admits its “still too early to get a good feel of how much the average will be over a longer period of time, but the numbers are looking good.”Jim’s dad saved 2,720 lbs. by making the switch, he swapped the slider fifth wheel that he never used for a stationary unit. “We maintained the same wheelbase by removing the axles and all of the suspension parts,” Jim explains. They redrilled the frame to accommodate the new axle set up so it would be in the center of where the tandem axles had been. Jim says the conversion was not without its challenges including issues with lengthening the driveshaft. Another item of note: the new rear differential has a rebuilt 3.55 gear set where the old tandem had a 3.70 ratio.Looks like Jim’s dad has put a fair amount of effort into making the switch to 4x2 but I am guessing he’s thinking the effort will be well worth it in the form of fuel economy improvements.Interestingly both Frito Lay and UPS have gone to 4x2 axles in the last few years for the same reason Jim’s dad did. They haul light, wanted to improve mpg and in the fleets’ example lowered their truck cost.It’s interesting to me that the big guys and the small guys think the same way when it comes to saving fuel. As I said at the beginning, I like to hear real world stories, so if you are doing anything interesting that is saving you fuel drop me a note at [email protected].
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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