97645579 | Vitpho | Dreamstime.com
Day cabs

Improving day-cab efficiency with aero devices

Jan. 30, 2024
Day cabs stand to benefit as much from aerodynamic devices as long-haul sleeper trucks.

While many operators focus on efficiency for long-haul vehicles, the day cabs which handle short-haul transportation stand to benefit from efficiency improvements as well. After all, ACT Research estimates that 40% of all Class 8 tractors sold are day cabs, meaning that they deserve as much attention to reduce aerodynamic drag as their sleeper cab bretheren.

I believe operators of both sleeper tractors and day cabs want to operate as efficiently as possible and get the most miles out of a gallon of fuel. I also suspect far too many people in the trucking industry think that aerodynamic devices are only for sleeper tractors. They believe investing in aero devices on day cabs makes no sense.

They are mistaken.

In the first place, many erroneously believe there is no aerodynamic benefit at speeds under 50 mph. That simply is not true. There are still efficiency gains to be had, though payback could take longer. It is important to remember that for every 2% reduction in aerodynamic drag, there is approximately a 1% improvement in fuel economy. Even if a truck does not get a full 2% reduction in drag, it still can see some improvement.

See also: Fleets' growing concerns include cost, efficiency, and sustainability, Shell Fleet Solutions says

I would also guess that many fleets—especially regional ones—spend more time at highway speeds than they think. I challenge fleets to spend some time analyzing their data and looking at miles traveled at various speeds. Of course, there will be slower miles as they get closer to their delivery points, but unless they are in a 100% city delivery application, I bet they will find that their trucks are traveling at more than 50 MPH for long periods.

Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities for aerodynamic improvement when looking at the tractor-trailer as a complete unit. The tractor-trailer combination can be optimized for aerodynamic efficiency even if the tractor is a day cab. For instance, gap closure devices between the tractor and the trailer are particularly beneficial, as they tend to have higher gaps, creating more drag as the air hits the front of the trailer.

If you are operating day cabs, I encourage you to consider adding aerodynamic devices. I bet they will save you money.

This article was originally published on FleetOwner.com.