The seven participating tractor-trailers Albert Transport, PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Division, Hirschbach, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Nussbaum Transportation, Ploger Transportation, and U.S. Xpress Enterprises clocked in a combined 50,107 miles during the 17-day event, which began September 6. By hitting 10.1 mpg, NACFE said they saved 2,877 gallons of fuel and $7,193 against the national average of 6.4 mpg.
"The most impressive thing is that we achieved this in real-wold conditions, mimicking real-world duty cycles," NACFE's Mike Roeth explained. "These were trucks using current or 2018 spec'd equipment; it's all currently available technology. They operated with normal freight loads, deadhead, and [engine] idling. And the hurricane-driven winds actually made the driving conditions worse."
Henry Albert, an owner-operator, said his last few loads during the Run on Less project put him at 70,000 lbs. gross weight on I-85 from Laredo, TX, to Charlotte, NC, into hurricane-generated cross winds and heavier-than-normal traffic due to road constriction. Yet Albert said he was still able to pull down 11.4 mpg despite those challenges.
Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) put rookie driver Emanuel Santiago behind the wheel for the Run on Less program; a driver who only joined the New Mexico-based motor carrier back on June 15 and who won't have a full year of truck driving under his belt until Oct. 9. "I'm 110% a rookie," he said. "But they wanted to see if a new driver could have success with this [improving fuel economy] and I was their Guinea Pig in a way."
The average gross combination weight for the trucks involved in the three-week Run on Less program hit 55,498 lbs. NACFE monitored the wind speed along each truck’s route using OpenWeatherMap.org; it varied from a 6.8 mile per hour (mph) average headwind to a 7.6 mph tailwind.
Brad Long, a driver for Hirschbach, has largely handled multi-stop TL loads during his 11 months with the company. A 12-year veteran driver, Long said his routes take him into city environments with a lot of traffic lights and stop-and-go traffic. Yet he felt that by demonstrating how “normal driving” with “normal equipment” in such conditions can delivery 9 mpg and even 10 mpg is crucial to helping the trucking industry as a whole reduce fuel consumption.
Joel Morrow with Ploger Transportation operates what he dubs a “legacy model” tractor and believes ton miles per gallon is a better marker for tractor-trailer fuel efficiency. His 1996-era Volvo cab, combined with an 11-liter 385 hp engine, turned out to be light enough to haul heavier loads and enabled him to make a heavy-haul out of Texas despite the aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey that other truckers could not “scale,” meaning that it would put other over their weight limit. And he averaged 9 mpg doing that, too.
During the 17-day event, the highest fuel economy achieved by any of the seven tractor-trailers was 12.8 mpg, and three different trucks had days over 12.5 mpg. The lowest only dropped to 7.1 mpg on one of the days, and the average for all of the lowest fuel economy numbers was 8.8 mpg, NACFE said.
If all 1.7 million heavy commercial trucks operating today on North American highways achieved the same level of efficiency as the tractor-trailers that participated in the Run on Less program, NACFE said they would save 9.7 billion gallons of diesel fuel and $24.3 billion per year.