Costs and adoption rates of fuel-saving trailer technologies

Published: 2014.02.18

Ben Sharpe and Mike Roeth

This study, “Costs and adoption rates of fuel-saving technologies for trailers in the North American on-road freight sector,” is the outcome of a 2013 collaboration between the ICCT and the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). The goal was to deepen the understanding of how the market for trailer efficiency technologies has evolved in recent years and to identify challenges and opportunities going forward by capturing a diverse cross-section of expert opinion from the trucking industry. These insights have important implications for transportation policy makers in North America.

Data for the project were collected using telephone interviews of a number of stake-holders throughout the on-road trucking industry, including manufacturers of trailers, aerodynamic technologies, and tires, as well as large and medium for-hire and private trucking fleets that operate roughly between 250 and 10,000 tractors and 500 and 30,000 trailers. In all, the study team conducted telephone interviews with 22 companies.

Overall, the study provides evidence that the market for fuel-saving trailer technologies has matured considerably, and early voluntary efforts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program and the California tractor-trailer GHG regulation have driven trailer technology development, technology cost reductions, and increasing adoption of trailer technology. As the quality and economics of trailer technologies continue to improve, market forces can be expected to drive steady increases in adoption across trucking fleets and owner-operators. Incorporating trailers into federal heavy-duty vehicle efficiency regulation will certainly complement California’s regulatory efforts, helping to accelerate the uptake of these known cost-effective technologies and promoting additional investment in development and deployment of new technologies.