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Approach fuel efficiency from a variety of angles

Aug. 14, 2018
No one thing can get you to 10 MPG but doing several things can get you closer.

I have talked about this subject before but I still get asked to name one thing that fleets should do to improve their fuel economy. That is a tough question. It depends, in part, on where the fleet is in its fuel efficiency journey. No matter what your current MPG is getting to the next level is something that needs to be approached from a variety of angles.

Obviously, it starts in the spec’ing process where fleets can choose a variety of products that will help them squeeze more miles from a gallon of diesel. Just to name a few they can consider automated manual transmissions, low rolling resistance tires, aerodynamic devices for the tractor, aerodynamic devices for the trailer, a variety of idle reduction solutions.

Once you have the tractor and trailer spec’d, the next step is to set your electronic engine parameters so they are optimized for fuel efficiency. The best thing about this step is that other than a little bit of time, it costs you nothing to adjust parameters.

Another crucial element in your drive to improve fuel efficiency is your drivers. The way a truck is driven has a big impact on how fuel efficiency it is. If you don't want to take my word for it, talk to the drivers who participated in Run on Less by NACFE. They will be happy to chat with you about what they are doing to that fuel efficiency in the trucks they operate. If you train your drivers properly, they will understand the benefits of driving keeping fuel efficiency top of mind.  And if training doesn’t get you the results you want, try some driver incentives as motivation.

You can also do things like making sure all your trucks are well maintained, optimizing your routes and reducing empty miles.

So now maybe you understand why it is so difficult for me to name only one thing to invest in to improve fuel efficiency. The reality is no one thing will get you to the 10.1 MPG we demonstrated was possible during Run on Less. But the good news is that a combination of things will get you there or at least get you closer to where you want to be.

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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