On Spring Training and Fuel Efficiency

Feb. 29, 2016
I bet you are wondering what spring training and fuel efficiency have to do with each other?

I bet you are wondering what spring training and fuel efficiency have to do with each other?  Well, to start with if you’ve followed me over time, you know I am very passionate about helping make our trucking industry as efficient as possible, but maybe you didn’t know that I also love baseball.

From the first time, I oiled up my mitt for a pitch and catch with my grandpa to every time I hear that pitchers and catchers have now reported to Spring training, I love baseball.  Well, this past week those pitchers and catchers showed up at their Florida and Arizona sites for another year of the sport they love and their teammates will join soon.

So, what else might Spring Training and Fuel Efficiency have in common?  I think a lot. Every baseball player comes to spring training thinking about how he is going to work on those big home run hits. Ball players often see spring training as a chance to swing for the fences, showing off their long ball prowess.

I am guessing that might just drive batting coaches a little crazy. Oh sure everyone loves those grand slam home runs, but coaches know that even the best hitter only delivers a home run 5% of the time he steps up to the plate and the average player, less than 1%. The majority of runs result from base hits and smart base running, that advance the players from one base to the next until the runs are scored.

For me this is a lot like fuel efficiency gains. Truck builders made significant design changes to their trucks, which resulted in some major improvements in aerodynamic drag. In addition many of you have already invested in some of the other technologies that promise big fuel economy gains and maybe you think that’s enough.

But I think we need to continue to tweak our specs and investigate new technologies so that we include things that move us forward in our march toward the highest miles per gallon that makes economic sense for your operation. But be aware, maybe that doesn’t come as the result of one miraculous technology solution that saves you 10% of your fuel costs, but many smaller actions. Slow but steady, technology after technology.

Sometimes with fuel efficiency like in baseball, it is the combination of the little things that gets us where we want to go - whether that’s the winning runs or eventually that 12 mpg truck.

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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