The impact of trucks on greenhouse gas emissions is oversized. Comprising just over 4 percent of vehicles in the United States and 9 percent of total mileage, they consume more than 25 percent of fuel—50 billion gallons of diesel each year. Worldwide, road freight is responsible for about 6 percent of all emissions, and growing.
There are two tracks for increasing fuel efficiency: (1) building it into the design of new trucks and (2) driving it up in rigs already on the road.
New models are sporting:
- better engines and aerodynamics,
- lighter weights,
- less rolling resistance for tires,
- hybridization, and
- automatic engine shutdown.
Based on 2010 U.S. prices, investing in these modernizations for a new truck can cost around $30,000, but save almost that much in fuel costs per year.
Because tractor-trailers remain on the road for many years, addressing the efficiency of existing fleets is critical. An array of measures can trim energy waste and increase fuel performance, such as anti-idling devices, upgrades that improve aerodynamics and reduce rolling resistance, and automatic cruise-control devices. Added up, they can make a significant dent in fuel use and costs.
Technical summaries for each solution will be available May 1, 2017.