Fuel costs less of a drag for Mesilla Valley with Michelin's aero kit

Sept. 5, 2019
The North American dry freight carrier is attaching Michelin’s Energy Guard aero kit to its trailers to decrease resistance and increase fuel efficiency

For Class 8 tractor-trailers traveling at highways speeds, an estimated 53% of the energy their engines create goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag, according to the Department of Energy. The resistance is mostly generated by pressure differences in the gap between the cabin and trailer and under the vehicle, as well as the trailer wake.

This phenomenon worsens in the winter, as the Canadian government found their nefariously low temperatures can increase drag by 20%.

To combat these issues, Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) is factory installing Michelin’s Energy Guard aerodynamic solution to its 53-foot trailers. The New Mexico-based carrier, which ranks No. 83 on the 2019 Fleet Owner 500 list of the largest for-hire carriers in the United States and Canada, has saved 10 gallons per 1,000 miles, or nearly $4,000 annually per trailer, with Energy Guard. 

"The company buys over 1.5 million gallons of fuel every month, so fuel savings have a major impact to our bottom line,” said MVT CEO Royal Jones. “Saving 10 gallons of fuel every 1,000 miles is strategically important when you have a fleet of 1,500 trucks and 5,000 trailers.”

The kit requires zero driver-interaction and was designed to be ultra-durable to reduce maintenance.

“Trailer skirts are susceptible to damage, particularly when maneuvering in trailer yards and approaching loading docks,” Jones said. “Obstacles and debris can cut and tear them to the point that they need to be removed. The Energy Guard solution addresses this reality with a clever bracket design that can flex both inward and outward.”

MVT had previously tested the drag-dropping add-ons earlier this year, yielding 8.7% fuel savings (at 65 mph), bettering Michelin’s previously touted 7.4% saving.

“The Michelin Energy Guard aerodynamic kit has the potential to be a game-changing solution for fleets,” Daryl Bear, lead engineer and chief operating officer of MVT Solutions.

The SmartWay-verified kit comprises five components attached to the side and back of the trailer: 

  • Trailer Skirt: Hanging from the sides of the trailer, these impact-resistant panels made from fiberglass-reinforced polymer control airflow and will bend over objects and snap back to form.
  • Sliding Brackets: These flexible fasteners hold the skirt panels in place.
  • Trailer End Fairings: Located on the sides and top flush with the end of the trailer, the three fairings combine with the skirt to direct airflow around the trailer to reduce drag.
  • Wake Reducer: The rear-facing spoiler, two slim pieces that attach to the doors, increases pressure on the back of the trailer to reduce the recirculation zone behind the trailer
  • Aerodynamic Mud Flaps: The hexagon-patterned louvers direct road spray and debris downward, as opposed to kicking through the openings. This doubles as a safety feature, as it also improves visibility for other motorists driving by on a wet road.
About the Author

John Hitch | Editor

John Hitch, based out of Cleveland, Ohio, is the editor of Fleet Maintenance, a B2B magazine that addresses the service needs for all commercial vehicle makes and models (Classes 1-8), ranging from shop management strategies to the latest tools to enhance uptime.

He previously wrote about equipment and fleet operations and management for FleetOwner, and prior to that, manufacturing and advanced technology for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest. He is an award-winning journalist and former sonar technician aboard a nuclear-powered submarine.

For tips, questions or comments, email [email protected].

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry during this informative webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!