Improving freight efficiency by lightening heavy trucks
Automakers are lightening their passenger vehicles with more aluminium to improve fuel efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to make the vehicles safer. But the drivers are different in the heavy truck market. The main driver in this market is freight efficiency, not fuel efficiency. It is about how much freight you can move for the same amount of fuel. Lightweighting is one of the ways this can be achieved.
The light vehicle market in the United States has had corporate average fuel economy standards for more than 40 years. These CAFE standards have changed the way OEMs are building their vehicles. The medium and heavy-truck segment does not have to meet the same targets. Consequently, this market is probably 10 years behind the automotive segment in terms of lightweighting and aluminium use. But commercial transport companies are getting better.
Fleet owners are trying to to increase the amount of freight that their trucks can move, and to reduce the number of truck journeys required for their fleet’s operations. With aluminium lightweighting, we can say that for every pound we take out of the truck, we can add a pound of freight. And at the end of the day, customers would prefer to give business to fleet owners who can haul more per trip, rather than putting more trucks on the road.
The trailer segment is another that could benefit from using more aluminium, and the good news is that most trailer OEMs are big fans of aluminium. They like the looks of it and aluminium, by nature, cures one of their biggest headaches, which is corrosion. Keep a close eye on the truck and trailer industry in the future, because it is getting lighter, too.
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