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10/30/2012 10:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Truck Makers Develop Improvements in Aerodynamics for Tractors

This story appears in the Oct. 29 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

While the largest aerodynamic changes are happening on trailers, truck makers said their products also are being made more air-efficient, which has a significant effect on the entire tractor-trailer combination.

To improve the aerodynamics of their vehicles, manufacturers are using computational fluid dynamics, or CFD, a mathematic tool used to predict how a fluid will flow around a given object. This prediction can help truck makers develop and hone aerodynamic improvements with unprecedented ease and effectiveness, manufacturers said.

T.J. Reed, director of product marketing for Freightliner Trucks, Portland, Ore., said the company “introduced the Cascadia Evolution in 2012. Available in day cab, mid-roof and raised-roof configurations, it offers a variety of advanced aerodynamic features that significantly increase efficiency and overall performance.”

The Cascadia will go into production in the first quarter of 2013.

Reed said specifics include, among other developments, a bumper air dam and other bumper-related enhancements, cooling enhancements and improvements to air flow around or over the windshield, antennas, side fairings and extenders, mirrors, and even rear wheel covers.

“The Cascadia Evolution delivers up to an additional 7% improvement in fuel economy over an [Environmental Protection Agency] 2010-compliant Cascadia equipped with a first-generation aerodynamic package,” Reed said.

At Kenworth Truck Co., Kirkland, Wash., the biggest news is its new T680, introduced last year at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. Design director Wally Peltola said aerodynamics played a major role in the vehicle’s design.

“Engineers developed, tested and retested every surface,” Peltola said, “Even the marker lights were made flush so as not to disturb the airflow. Kenworth engineers’ design philosophy was that every line should be flowing, and every surface should look clean and purposeful.”

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By John Baxter
Special to Transport Topics

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