Aerodynamic devices intended to calm turbulence and improve fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles come in many shapes and sizes — from wheel covers to fairings over, under and behind trailers. Now a group of investors has provided additional support to XStream Trucking Inc., whose TruckWings device automatically encloses the area between the tractor and trailer.
XStream said it has secured $10.5 million in Series A funding, co-led by Autotech Ventures and Calibrate Ventures.
A rendering of air flow on a truck without (top) and with XStream's TruckWings device. (XStream Trucking Inc.)
“[Autotech and Calibrate] saw a business plan where this could become a standard piece of equipment for over-the-road trucks, and that certainly is our vision. If you are running over 80,000 miles a year it makes sense to save 4-6% of fuel. It pays for itself very quickly, inside of 18 months,” Daniel Burrows, XStream’s founder and CEO, told Transport Topics.
“We need to build out the infrastructure to support a large number of fleets and a large amount of production. And that’s what we raised this money for,” he said.
In 2016, XStream Trucking was a student project at Stanford University, and it won second place and $30,000 for its patented technology during that year’s Cleantech University Prize national competition.
In our second episode of RoadSigns, Season Three, we ask: How Much More Juice Can Be Squeezed Out of the Aerodynamics Lemon? Hear a snippet from host Seth Clevenger, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.
The company now has a manufacturing facility in Mexico and is absolutely selling the product, Burrows said, with trucks using the device accumulating 1 million miles a week. “We are a small company and growing fast.”
TruckWings is bolted behind the cab. The top and side panels unfold automatically when a truck reaches a certain speed. They refold by themselves when the open gap is needed for the truck to make a turn.
Its location sets it apart from other aerodynamic devices, Burrows said. “It’s where your satellite dish is or your APU is located. People don’t often see damage to that side of the truck,” he said, referring to the auxiliary power unit.
The company did tests with Mesilla Valley Transportation Solutions showing about 4% savings, he said, but those were more controlled and did not take into account crosswinds, where TruckWings proves most beneficial, Burrows said.
Mesilla Valley provides services for product suppliers including fuel economy testing, consulting and certification that provide proof of the product’s fuel savings to their customers.
In addition, XStream tests its product with every fleet so they can see the results on their equipment. It also offers GPS-enabled software that tracks fuel savings information in real time and sends a report every week telling a customer how far the trucks drove, how often the truck wings were deployed, the fuel savings and the dollar amount saved.
“That has been a really important feature for us so fleets can track the ROI on the purchase. We are on hybrid, compressed natural gas and diesel [powered trucks]. It doesn’t matter what’s powering a truck. We improve the aerodynamics. We are platform independent in that regard,” Burrows said.