The Green Truck

| January 04, 2009

Shades of Green
Any driver will tell you there are as many ways to save fuel as there are to protect the natural environment. From the basic operational choice to drive 60 mph instead of 70 to grades of investment in all sorts of equipment, “going green” in the trucking industry can mean many things.

One notion is abundantly clear, however, in today’s economic climate. The concept of being green equals both striving for environmental benefits over the status quo and the opportunity for increased revenue, whether in costs saved or marketing power to shippers. Without doubt, a revolution is under way in the industry.

“Trucking companies and owner-operators play a critical role in moving goods in this country,” says Mitchell Greenberg, national program manager for the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, a voluntary collaboration of government, shippers, carriers/owner-operators and equipment manufacturers that has led the charge. “They are maximizing fuel efficiency and reducing harmful emissions by joining the SmartWay program. We are trying to help truck drivers access the best loans available to them through our SmartWay Finance Center so they can acquire fuel-saving equipment that best meets their needs.”

With an increase in low-interest loan programs (including those accessible via www.SmartWayFinanceCenter.com) and other incentives, and with growing pressure from shippers, says Sharon Banks, CEO of Cascade Sierra Solutions, an Oregon-based nonprofit, “SmartWay continues to grow.” Based on each carrier’s green modifications, they receive ratings that allow them to demonstrate to shippers that they’re achieving high fuel economy and benefiting the environment. “The worst thing you’re going to do by being a part of the SmartWay program is save fuel,” Banks says, and her organization has gone a long way toward helping independent owner-operators find ways to invest in equipment to get them involved in the partnership.

But there are shades of green – the extent to which your trucking operation could be green is mostly up to you. While reading the stories in this issue of Truckers News, take time to imagine the potential of the detailed equipment modifications in your own operation.
- Todd Dills

The Aero Spec
From the shape of your truck’s nose to your utilization of the aerodynamic options available in the aftermarket, attention to your truck’s aerodynamics can pay off big.

Plus: Financing for aero equipment, SmartWay certified tractors, truck-body recycling

Dawn of the Hybrid
The diesel-electric hybrid is a reality in medium-duty applications, but long-haul potential is on the rise, with some carriers testing the technology today toward achieving a zero-emissions vehicle.

Plus: Drivetrain spec’ing for fuel economy

Incomplete Correction
Biodiesel is to many truckers the answer to what they see as the “error of oil,” but as demand for home-grown fuel exceeds its supply, prices hover above that of No. 2 diesel and availability remains scarce.

Plus: Home-grown synthetic motor oils, bypass filtration, motor oil recycling

Batteries Included
Adoption of no-engine anti-idling devices is a growing alternative to traditional diesel-driven auxiliary power units to provide in-cab electricity, heating and cooling.

Plus: Diesel genset-type APUs, calculating anti-idling payback, available grants and financing, low-power interiors, charging ahead with the latest in battery technologies

Needed Pressure
The oil shock has put the fuel-saving benefits of certain types of tires, like the ever-more-prevalent wide single, and basic tire maintenance in high relief.

Plus: Recycling rubber from the road, retreads as environmental (and economical) tire choice

Less Drag on the Wagon
Van trailer and accessories manufacturers make strides in aerodynamic fuel-saving technologies.

Plus: Trailer return on investment, tarping flatbed loads for fuel savings, new recycling trend stacks up in intermodal containers used as housing superstructure

Green Truckers
Landstar Owner-Operator Ken England
Kathryn Beattie of Leading Green Distribution
Owner-Operator Dave Smith

Green Fleets
Mesilla Valley Transportation (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Blue Sky Shipping (Pt. Richmond, Calif.)
Blitz Transportation (Shelton, Wash.)

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