Boat tail reduces truck fuel consumption

A boat tail, a tapering protrusion mounted on the rear of a truck, leads to fuel savings of 7.5 percent. This is due to dramatically-improved aerodynamics, as shown by road tests conducted by the PART (Platform for Aerodynamic Road Transport) public-private partnership platform…

An articulated lorry was driven for a period of one year with a boat tail (of varying length) and one year without a boat tail. The improved aerodynamics, depending on the length of the boat tail, resulted in reduced fuel consumption (and emissions!) of up to 7.5 percent. The optimum boat tail length proved to be two metres.

The tests were conducted by PART. This is a platform in which academics, road transport manufacturers, transport companies and shippers work together. The platform aims to reduce fuel consumption in the road transport industry by improving aerodynamics. PARTs ambition is to achieve a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in the road transport industry by 2020…

Comparable bodies in the United States are running similar tests. I’ve seen the altered boxes on the Interstate system.

OK. I had to look around a little bit. Transtex and ATDynamics are not only experimenting with boat tails – but, also trailer side skirts. Loks like they haven’t gotten out to the optimized 2-meter length that TU Delft likes. Yes, these are designed as add-ons for existing trailers. They can be built-ons more efficiently utilizing the cube for OEM production.

4 thoughts on “Boat tail reduces truck fuel consumption

  1. Mr. Fusion says:

    An engine designer told me once that a 0.5% increase in efficiency doesn’t sound like much until you apply it to the fleet numbers when it becomes it’s own huge number.

    The obvious downside would be the extra length of the trailer. Shippers currently look at space where they can put stuff. This could effectively put more trucks on the road.

    • moss says:

      That’s why the most important use of this research will be in the construction of new containers. For over-the road.

      Those will fit within haulage codes and not have extended length. They’ll be able to use the whole cube.

      The conflict comes with outfits dropping the standard box on a frame right off a container ship. Those will remain perfect rectangles for obvious storage reasons on board. They may utilize an add-on for aero savings.

      • Mr. Fusion says:

        I foresee the problem being that pallets are currently designed to maximize internal space. If the ends are tapered than that will create issues with the size of the pallets.

        The same applies to stacking the containers on ships. They like to maximize space. If the containers have tapered ends, that is wasted space.


        If the tails are collapsible then many of these problems might be minimized.

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