NASHVILLE. Aerodynamic device maker ATDynamics believes that, based on current adoption rates, it expects to sell some 200,000 units of its TrailerTail system by 2017.
Steve Rodger, the company’s director of marketing, noted in a press conference here at the 2014 Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) annual convention that North American fleets are on track to order 50,000 TrailerTails alone by the end of 2014, with over 350 fleets deploying the TrailerTail – designed to reduce aerodynamic drag at the rear of the trailer and boost overall tractor-trailer fuel efficiency by 5.5% – over the last 36 months, with 65 of them “full fleet” adoptions.
Rodger added that the impeding introduce of “next generation” greenhouse gas (GHG) and fuel efficiency rules for medium- and heavy-duty announced by President Obama last month should help spur more widespread usage of such trailer-focused aerodynamic devices.
“Those regulations will definitely impact the market,” he explained. “We also expect to see as a result new [Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)] ‘SmartWay’ certifications for combination aerodynamic device packages involving both trailer skirts and tails.”
Andrew Smith, founder and CEO of ATDynamics, noted in a statement that the SmartWay program currently offers two verification categories for aerodynamic devices: 1% and 5% fuel savings. To promote greater fuel efficiency for heavy duty trucks and trailers, it is expected that new categories will be developed that allow a combination of devices to be verified at or above 5% savings.
Court Hinricher, an ATD mechanical engineer focused on new product development, added during the TMC press event that the “wave of the future” when it comes to boosting trailer aerodynamics will be movement towards a more “teardrop” shape.
“All of the ‘Super Truck’ projects have adopted tails for their trailers which we see as a starting point for more rounded front and rear shapes for trailers,” he pointed out. “Tractor companies, however, are taking the lead in terms of developing tractor/trailer gap closing efforts, such as moving the kingpin in closer to the rear side of the cab.”
In a related effort, ATDynamics announced earlier this month that it will begin offering trucking fleets “combination” aerodynamic packages – installing both side skirts and TrailerTails on dry van units – tested by the Auto Research Center (ARC) at its wind tunnel in Indianapolis, IN, that deliver roughly 9.6%, 10.6% and 11.2% fuel savings.
The firm noted that it has already successfully deployed over 20,000 such “combination” packages, testing different side skirt configurations in combination packages with its at the ARC wind tunnel and in on-road SAE Type II J1321 fuel efficiency testing, which recorded 9% to 11% fuel efficiency gains at highway speed, aligning with its wind tunnel testing results.
ATDynamics is also seeking to expand further into global markets as it wrapped up an Asian tour late last year. Currently, the company said its trailer aerodynamic products are in use in 31 different countries, with regulatory limits upon commercial trailer lengths usually the biggest hurdle to overcome.
“In Asia, of course, there are trailer product differences such as thicker door materials and different locking mechanisms,” Rodger said. Waivers and special permits typically help ATDynamics get around regulatory limits on trailer length, he added, with both methods used for example in Australia and Canada to help the company deploy TrailerTail units in those respective countries.