EUROPE – An intensive programme of research undertaken by the Platform for Aerodynamic Road Transport (PART) has been published showing all the advantages of utilising technical advances in truck aerodynamics, tested in wind tunnel conditions, when brought out onto the open road.
We cannot do justice in this article to the number and complexity of innovations made possible by the PART investigation. Some basic facts will whet the appetite of any fleet owners with a sense of adventure and an eye on overheads but we would recommend a visit to the PART website (link below) to fully understand the possibilities of the research.
The boat tail, as shown above is the most striking potential innovation. PART warn that fitting such a device will require the driver to undergo supplementary training as it can radically affect handling characteristics. It will nevertheless produce a 7.5% fuel saving in motorway conditions when a two metre “tail” is fitted. This is no scribbled theory please note, this is an “on the road” test. The obvious drawbacks are there for all to see, extra cost, less accessibility to the rear loading doors and, most crucially, an extra two metres which, in the UK at least, would require a change in legislation on overall length to make it viable.
PART however do not deal in somewhat impractical solutions alone. Their research into other fuel saving devices includes Air Dams, ECO flaps, roof fairings, tractor side panels and many more. Their website home page demonstrates how fitting a selection of these devices can produce a fuel and emissions reduction of over 20%!