NPR describes it as “the flaps on a Chinese food take out box, tipped on its side.” I’d say that’s a fair description. It simply looks odd, as you can see in the video below. What exactly is it? It’s called The TrailerTail and was developed by ATDynamics in order to cut down on the rear air drag associated with driving a tractor trailer. Getting trucks to more efficiently cut through the air as they haul goods across the country can save up to 6.5% of the $50,000 truckers can spend per year on gasoline.
There are about 1,000 of these funky looking TrailerTails currently on the road with 3,500 on order. Given that gas prices have risen lately and are likely to stay consistently high going forward, significant fuel costs could be saved using a TrailerTail. The video mentions that “for high mileage fleets, it pays for itself in one year.” Trucks with French door style openings on the back are currently the only kind of truck with which the device works but ATDynamics is looking to see how they can modify the design for trucks with garage door style openings. A recent post of ours talked about a unique undercarriage being developed with help from the Department of Energy. Could both of these used in combination yield a super efficient truck fleet?
I haven’t seen any of these on the roads, but my time on highways has diminished markedly since I sold my car. Have you seen one of these in use out on the road?