LOUISVILLE, KY. A smaller version of the “TrailerTail” aerodynamic device developed by ATDynamics to improve the fuel economy profile of 53-ft. dry van trailers is being readied for launch this fall, aimed at operators of 48-ft. “pup” trailers, intermodal units, and Canadian fleets that face stricter trailer length laws.

Babur “Bob” Ozden, ATDynamics’ COO, explained at a press conference here at the 2011 Mid-America Trucking Show that the new “TrailerTail Nano” device will extend out only 2 ft. from the rear of a dry van model, as opposed to the 4 ft. length of the company’s TrailerTail Model 2011 device, which was introduced last year.

As a result, the TrailerTail Nano will weigh also weigh less than its 175 lb. bigger brother. Coming in at about 100 lbs., Ozden noted. It will also cost less than the $2,800 sticker price of the TrailerTail Model 2011 – though Ozden wouldn’t reveal the cost of the Nano version – but will generate fuel economy savings of about 4% compared to the 6.6% achieved by its larger compatriot.

That being said, Ozden believes demand for TrailerTails and other aerodynamic devices designed to boost the fuel savings of dry van units is on the upswing, to the point where he believes they will become standard technology on trailers within five years.

“We started to see fleets wake up to the potential savings last year and that acceptance will only increase as the cost of fuel rises,” he explained. “We’ve gathered 4,000 orders for TrailerTail Model 2011 devices since October last year and are deploying about 5 to 10 of them per day now.”

The company also plans to lengthen the warranty on the TrailerTail device this May from 1 to 3 years, based on extensive analysis of 750 devices in service with customer Mesilla Valley Transportation over the past eight months.

ATDynamics noted its data to date indicates that the TrailerTail Model 2011 can save up to 8 gals. of diesel fuel per 1,000 miles driven at highway speeds (60 mph), a figure that jumps to 14 gals. per 1,000 miles when tails are used in combination with side skirts on trailers.

“Thus we’re finding the ROI [return on investment] period is now between 6 to 24 months for these devices, depending on how many highway miles are driven by a fleet’s tractor-trailers,” he said.

ATDynamics estimates the U.S. trucking industry loses about $2 billion annually worth of fuel to drag created by the squared-off rear of the standard dry van trailer.