Concept commercial transport truck.

The Concept S truck by MAN reduces fuel consumption by 25 percent compared to conventional 40-ton trucks. The integrated truck/trailer combination is aerodynamically designed to reduce drag. It also prevents cyclists from being dragged under the wheels. The front windshield greatly increases driver visibility and safety.

Efficient Trucks

Reduce SourcesTransportationEnhance Efficiency
CO2 Equivalent
Reduced / Sequestered
Billion $US
Net First Cost
(To Implement Solution)
Trillion $US
Lifetime Net
Operational Savings
Fuel-efficiency is critical to reduce road-freight emissions. Existing fleets can be retrofitted, while new trucks can be built to be more efficient or fully electric.

Solution Summary*

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
  • automatic engine shutdown. 

Based on 2010 U.S. prices, investing in these modernizations for a new truck can cost around US$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.

* excerpted from the book, Drawdown

If adoption of fuel-saving technologies grows from 10 percent to 50–60 percent of trucks by 2050, this solution can deliver 4.6–9.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions. An investment of US$508–852 billion to implement could save $3.5–6.1 trillion on fuel costs over truck lifetimes.

Note: August 2021 corrections appear in boldface.