Why trucks do not apply aerodynamics?

The passenger cars have benefited continuously of aerodynamic improvements, with important gains in fuel consumption. But it’s harder to convince that the trucks sector heavyweights can get away from the traditional square and rectangular formats and their sharp edges.

Engineers at the Linkoping University Sweden making another attempt to show those benefits.

Using computer simulations to redesign a vehicle of light load, Matts Karlsson and Petter Ekman showed that simple changes, like the roundness of the bodywork, generate gains of up to 12% in fuel consumption.

And those gains were not theoretical. In cooperation with a carrier, they built a prototype with the simpler and cheaper modifications developed in simulators and put the small truck to run for 100,000 km, comparing the results with a unique vehicle with same type.

The original truck received self-supporting floors and had non-structural sections replaced by lighter parts. The trunk has rounded, all sharp corners and edges have been removed, the wheels were partially closed and the roof of the cabin received a slight tilt back, in a format similar to an airplane wing.

Truck Fuel Economy and why trucks do not apply aerodynamics.

In service trips, loaded with up to 950 kg, the aerodynamic truck made 11 km per liter of bio-diesel, 12% more accurate than its original boxy equivalent. Furthermore, the tire wear has been reduced significantly.

Despite the result, the team has no expectation that the aerodynamics will play an important role in the trucking industry in the short term because the problem is bigger than the wind.

“Here, the problem is that nobody has total responsibility: the truck is manufactured in one place the accessories in another, and the body in a third. What Volvo, Scania and other truck manufacturers reduce the fuel consumption in the vehicle is quickly devoured by the big trunk and square that the vehicle must pull, “said Erik Alfredsson, owner of the carrier which sponsored the experiment.

Maybe that’s why the same beneficial results come being shown in several tests, without this resulting in benefits that can be seen on the roads and directions on the budget carriers.