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TruckWings Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner
Daniel Burrows, XStream's founder and CEO, poses with the UPS tractor-trailer that participated in "Run on Less." The vehicle includes the TruckWings aerodynamic device.

UPS gets a lift as TruckWings eliminates the tractor-trailer gap

Launched less than two years ago, the TruckWings aerodynamic device that closes the tractor-trailer gap was among the technologies featured on UPS’s vehicle in the 2019 Run on Less Regional event. 

The 10 drivers and vehicles in Run on Less achieved an average 8.3 miles per gallon, well above the national average of 6 mpg. The North American Council on Freight Efficiency (NACFE) held a luncheon at the recent North American Commercial Vehicle (NACV) Show in Atlanta to share the results and bring together many of the participants. 

“Part of NACFE and Run on Less is to show deployable technologies that are available,” said Bill Brentar, UPS’s senior director of maintenance and engineering for transportation equipment at the company’s headquarters in Atlanta. “This is one that has definitely proven itself and has exceeded our expectation in terms of fuel economy claims.”

Brentar said UPS has installed the device on several hundred tractor-trailers powered by compressed natural gas, including the one used in Run on Less. The company was just beginning to evaluate if the product will also work for its diesel tractor-trailers, he said. UPS ranks No. 1 on the 2019 Fleet Owner 500 listing of the largest for-hire carriers

Working with UPS has helped us make the product better and make it work in different types of operations,” said Daniel Burrows, founder and CEO of XStream Trucking, which makes TruckWings. 

Burrows has spent more than four years focusing on the tractor-trailer gap. He called TruckWings the “first product that changes the shape of the truck based on speed,” providing an average fuel savings of 4% to 6%, depending on the operation. 

The TruckWings device is bolted behind the cab, with the panels automatically opening at highway speeds. When the truck is moving more slowly, the panels automatically close, providing the maneuverability needed for the tractor-trailer to make narrow turns. 

The price for a single unit is approximately $4,000, with payback for a tractor traveling 80,000–100,000 miles a year pegged at 12-15 months. Earlier this year, XStream announced it secured $10.5 million in Series A funding, led by Autotech Ventures and Calibrate Ventures.

TruckWings is currently manufactured in a two-step process at separate facilities. Burrows said the company is looking to consolidate the process to one plant. Most units arrive to fleets as part of a new truck order, with installation often occurring at a modification center prior to delivery. 

In total, the devices have logged 30 million miles while deployed. XStream also “battle-tests the device to ensure durability” during high-cross winds and winter storms, Burrows explained. TruckWings is powered by a telematics system that allows fleets to track their savings and provides regular reports on how often the wings were deployed.

Looking ahead, Burrows sees TruckWings as a popular option for electric trucks, where it can help extend the total number of miles available before a charge is required. 

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