Truck Fleet Efficiency Study Unveils Annual Savings of $4,400 Per Truck

Truck fleets adopting new fuel efficiency products and practices saved an annual average of $4,400 per truck—$22,000 over five years—the North American Council for Freight Efficiency found in its first fleet fuel efficiency study. The council, an RMI nonprofit spinoff, has formed the NACFE Academy, growing out of the study released last month.

The council conducted the study with eight of the world’s largest trucking fleets, representing 75,000 tractors and 130,000 trailers, arguably the largest-ever fleet fuel efficiency benchmarking study. It analyzed the adoption of 60 known technologies and practices available to fleets over the past eight years.

Those technologies include such things as:

  • Aerodynamic tractors
  • Single wide tires, rather than doubled-up tires, to reduce rolling resistance
  • Automatic transmissions
  • Anti-idling devices

This work is important because efficiency in heavy trucks can, through a range of measures, according to RMI’s Reinventing Fire research, “save about a tenth of U.S. oil, help insulate the trucking industry and its customers from high oil prices, and keep the U.S. economy humming.”

NACFE was formed in November 2009 as an outgrowth of RMI’s Transformational Trucking Project. Its aim is to help the meet industry demands for greater efficiency, reliability and trustworthy technology solutions. NACFE neither sells nor promotes specific technologies. By adhering to a standard of technological and political impartiality, the council seeks to ensure the safe, efficient, and profitable future of the trucking industry.

The NACFE survey found that fleets adopting the efficiency tactics averaged 6.4 miles per gallon for their trucks versus 6 mpg had they done nothing. It also found that fleets continued adopting the efficiency measures even when diesel prices dropped.

Participating fleets shared experience implementing the technology and best practices in managing their large fuel expenses. The study provides insights for others considering adoption of the products and practices, and gives feedback to manufacturers on customer requirements and expectations for future products.

“The economic value that this NACFE fuel efficiency study represents to us is significant,” said Mike O’Connell, national senior director of fleet capability for Frito Lay. “It provides specific ideas for execution as we continue to lower our fuel costs. Environmental opportunities are equally exciting, and since our fleet is known for its environmental leadership, we look forward to receiving both economic and environmental benefits from this report.”

Steve Phillips, senior vice president of operations for Werner Enterprises, said the study “provides suppliers and support organizations with real-world information garnered directly from those of us who purchase, operate and maintain all these products they produce.” Frito Lay and Werner were two of the eight participating fleets.

“Being a newly created nonprofit, formed within the past two years, we are thrilled that our first major product is generating so much interest among the trucking industry,” said NACFE Executive Director Mike Roeth. “Through our unbiased approach to aggregating information on fuel efficient technologies, we are adding direct value to the fleets’ bottom line and offering significant insights for suppliers and other organizations as they work in this field. We are receiving a number of accolades from the participating and other fleets wanting to join future studies to build on these findings.”

The new NACFE Academy, available to council members, will be a virtual source for successful applications of fuel-saving products and practices.

The academy will provide “relevant information for fleets, suppliers and support organizations that are working diligently to improve North American freight efficiency,” said Kevin Beaty, global operations manager for Eaton’s hybrid business and a NACFE Board member. The academy, he said, will be “an interactive place for the industry to learn about key strategies and technologies in an easily accessible environment that will promote greater understanding and give members practical steps they can take in their specific individual roles.”

NACFE plans to expand the study with more participating fleets in 2012 and through detailed spinoff projects. To contact the council, email