As gas prices increase, shipping continues to get more costly. Heavy trucks account for 17% of all petroleum use in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and increased shipping costs are often passed on to consumers in the form of higher retail prices.
The design of semi trucks is being re-imagined to reduce drag and save money on fuel. One of these innovations is the TrailerTail, a thermoplastic box that looks like a large piece of origami.
The TrailerTail works by reducing the drag behind a trailer. This reduces the amount of spray the truck generates in wet weather and discourages other drivers from tailgating, simultaneously increasing fuel efficency and promoting road safety. Once attached, the device automatically opens and closes in four seconds.
The TrailerTail delivers 6.6% fuel efficiency gains at 65 miles per hour, according to ATDynamics, the company that designed the device. That may not sound like a lot, but it saves truckers eight gallons of fuel for every 1,000 miles traveled at highway speeds (45-75 mph), which can save companies upwards of $4,000 a year per truck.
The 4-foot-long TrailerTail is exempt from Department of Transportation length restrictions, making it legal in the United States. The tail can be installed by two people in about one hour. The device is made from the same material as trailer scruff liners and side skirts, so it is intended to last for the lifetime of the truck.
Check out this video explaining the TrailerTail, which claims that when used by high mileage fleets, the device “will pay for itself in less than one year.”