NASHVILLE. WABCO Holdings Inc. has launched the first aerodynamic trailer tail in the U.S. to feature automatic deployment and retraction, a system that utilizes lighter, stronger materials for a smaller and more stable design.
The global supplier of commercial vehicle components announced on Monday the North American premiere of the OptiFlow AutoTail as part of its showcase of aerodynamics technologies at TMC Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition here.
The system, already on the road in Europe, deploys and retracts tail panels based on driving speed as determined by sensors linked to WABCO’s Trailer Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS). The device automatically deploys at vehicle speeds of 45 mph ensuring it is consistently used at speeds that maximize aerodynamic fuel savings. The tail panels automatically retract at a vehicle speed of 10 mph.
OptiFlow AutoTail is the first product to earn EPA SmartWay verification from the National Research Council (NRC), the Canadian government’s premier research and technology organization, according to the company. AutoTail delivers fuel savings of up to 4.3% at highway speeds based on SmartWay test protocol, and reduces CO₂ emissions by up to 4.8 tons per trailer per year.
Automatic retraction also improves maneuverability and enhances safety by ensuring panels are folded in city centers, loading docks and other areas where trailers are in close proximity to pedestrians or objects, pointed out Jon Morrison, WABCO President, Americas, in demonstrating the system to Fleet Owner.
WABCO also features its OptiFlow Tail for the first time in North America. Easy to deploy and retract manually, WABCO OptiFlow Tail provides identical fuel savings as OptiFlow AutoTail. It features a lightweight design that is straightforward to install and retrofit. OptiFlow Tail is easily upgraded to OptiFlow AutoTail.
Both OptiFlow Tail and AutoTail are made from automotive grade thermoplastic, an extremely lightweight, durable and long-lasting material that resists wear from weather, vibration and everyday hazards of the trucking industry. The injection-molded panels offer a unique, curved shape and smooth surface that reduces air resistance.
“We are proud to introduce an array of innovative aerodynamic solutions in North America that will improve efficiency of commercial vehicles for fleet operators and transport companies alike,” said Morrison. “WABCO’s OptiFlow AutoTail and Tail represent our first product integration in North America after we acquired aerodynamic technology leader Laydon Composites Ltd. in April 2016. Based on our combined world-class aerodynamics expertise, design and manufacturing capabilities we deliver aerodynamic solutions that will help our fleet customers meet U.S. greenhouse gas emission regulations to take effect in January 2018.”
Morrison also suggested the success of WABCO’s trailer skirts—as well the company's position as a leading supplier to trailer OEMs—will provide a marketing edge to the new products.
“We’re obviously going to work very closely with the OEMs to bring the most cost-effective solution to our fleet customers. Our target is to look at pricing and look at value to ensure that we get a payback of less than two years,” he said. “I think fleets understand the value proposition—but it’s a matter of planning, of getting something they’re comfortable to deploy and that makes sense.”