March 11, 2014 10:55 AM, EDT
200,000 Trailer Tails Expected to be in Use by 2017

An estimated 200,000 trailers will be equipped with trailer-tail technology by 2017, according to manufacturer ATDynamics.

The technology reduces aerodynamic drag at the back of tractor-trailers, improving fuel efficiency by about 5%. It has been used on the Department of Energy’s fuel-efficiency project, SuperTruck.

Currently, 350 trucking companies use the device. Prime Inc. and C.R. England each operate 20,000 TrailerTails, according to ATDynamics.

“The primary reason that the shape of semi-trailers will change is that TrailerTails pay for themselves in six to 24 months, depending on the operating profile of the fleet,” ATDynamics CEO Andrew Smith said in a statement.

“Investment opportunities that pay 50% to 200% annual returns tend to drive action.”

The DOE’s SuperTruck recently was highlighted by President Obama as part of his call for higher fuel-efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks.

“We are honored that TrailerTail technology has been recognized by the Department of Energy SuperTruck teams as a key component of next-generation tractor-trailers and that our efforts to change the shape of the modern semi-trailer have succeeded,” Smith said.