Less drag on the wagon

Van side skirts like this one by Freight Wing are just one of the aftermarket options available for improving trailer aerodynamics.

By Misty Bell and Max Kvidera
In past years, manufacturers like Utility, Great Dane, Wabash, Hyundai Translead and Trailmobile have worked to make trailers that are more durable and aerodynamic, thus offering tractor fuel-efficiency gains. These five companies have partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership. And through continued efforts from trailer manufacturers and other companies and EPA, trailers are fast taking shape as the final piece in the green puzzle, not just more aerodynamic but also environmentally friendly in other ways.

Get repaid sooner than you think
Jeff Sims, of the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, says a more aerodynamic trailer can be achieved relatively easily. “For the trailer side,” he says, “basically you have to use a low rolling resistance tire, aerodynamic side skirts and what they call gap reducers. Those are all designed to basically make the air flow smoother across the trailer and to increase the efficiency.”

These are, in fact, recommendations Sims and representatives from trailer manufacturers made to EPA’s SmartWay program. Mitchell Greenberg, SmartWay director, says the benefits of getting on board with SmartWay’s trailer recommendations quickly repay the upfront cost. “With fuel prices where they are now