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Focus: Transportation Management

Feature Article from Our Transportation Management Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's On-Target E-Magazine

Sept. 26, 2012


Logistics News: European Expo Features New Highly Aerodynamic Tractor-Trailer Designs


Germany's MAN Says New Design will Reduce Fuel and Carbon Emissions by an Average of 25%; Sleek Curves Replace Traditional Boxy Design

SCDigest Editorial Staff


German truck maker MAN unveiled this week an aerodynamic class 8 tractor-trailer the company says can cut fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by some 25%. With both diesel gas costs and greenhouse gas emissions continuing to be major sources of concern for carriers and shippers, the new truck platform may gain substantial interest.

SCDigest Says:

MAN says it made extensive use of a wind tunnel in developing the design and reaching their aerodynamic targets.
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The new prototype was displayed at the IAA Commercial Vehicles expo in Hanover, Germany. MAN says the vehicle has the same load capacity of a conventional truck, while at the same time achieving the low drag coefficient of a passenger car.

MAN is providing the tractor (the Concept S), while partner Krone developed the AeroLiner trailer.

In fact, MAN says that to achieve substantial improvements in aerodynamics, it is essential to look at the tractor and trailer as one system.

The opportunities from better aerodynamics are substantial, the company also noted. It cited data showing that overcoming wind resistance requires up to 37% of the total energy used by the truck, depending on the route and wind conditions.

The rectangular profile of most existing trucks today arose from the focus of the design being to maximize cargo capacity - but times are changing.
The new MAN truck-trailer keeps basically the same capacity, but in order to achieve that and achieve the aerodynamics both the tractor and the trailer had to be elongated, for example to accommodate a curved radiator in the front of the tractor. The added total length of two to three meters for the combined system puts the new truck beyond the limits currently allowed by most current European regulations.

MAN executives say the new tractor-trailer could be available to the market as soon as the next generation of its trucks are designed for production in just a few years. But that is only if the current length limits are relaxed, so that MAN can be confident in making the additional investments in design and production.

MAN's engineers focused on airflow around the train as a whole, starting with the tractor's rounded front section, reduction in the size of its mirrors, and streamlined, integrated fuel tanks. In a newly developed concept, the spoiler is integrated in a form-fitting manner into the roof of the driver's cab. The closes the gap between tractor and trailer completely, allowing an even airflow over the vehicle, without separation.


MAN's New Aerodynamic Tractor-Trailer


Full-size side finishers and a tapered rear in the trailer add the the lower wind resistance. This change has the additional benefit of reducing noise inside the cabin.

MAN says it made extensive use of a wind tunnel in developing the design and reaching their aerodynamic targets.

(Transportation Management Article Continued Below)



"Our Concept S, in conjunction with an aerodynamically optimized trailer, is as streamlined as a modern passenger car. We proved it in the wind tunnel. The savings in consumption are absolutely realistic," said Holger Koos, who led the design effort for the new truck for MAN.

At the same show, rival truck maker Renault of France also unveiled a concept for more aerodynamic trucks that meet current length limits, but will deliver lower mileage improvements that the MAN design that lengthens the vehicles.

The company said the sleeker design will be delivered for its three major models in 2013, as well as a change in engine technology that it says will also significantly improve mileage.

The Renault trucks will feature what it calls "active areo," in which various fins and panels move intelligently as the truck goes down the highway to alter the air flow, reducing the truck's drag coefficient. It features a tubular structure, made of carbon fiber and aluminum, and a panel which slides down (on the very front), while the truck is traveling at speed, to further reduce its air resistance.

Renault's New Design



Renault's design also includes making the trailer more aerodynamic, with covered rear wheels and a teardrop shape.

MAN actually had a real prototype model at the expo. Renault had a animation that showed the new design. With the concepts, MAN and Renault join other big names in the truck business such as Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner in developing new aerodynamic designs.

Is it about time we had more aerodynamic tractor-trailer designs? Do you think it will difficult in the US and Europe to get truck length limits extended? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.

Recent Feedback

If the benefits outweigh the cost of the vehicle, I think both the US and Europe will push to extend truth lengths. If not, revising the cabin length could be an option. 

I recently took a transportation course and wondered why there was not yet a vehicle that was lighter in weight that could haul light items. 

I understand their is a problem with the high cost of transporting lightweight objects that take up space, such as cotton balls. My logic is that light weight commodities would be less expensive to haul if vehicle hauling was more fuel efficient.  The lighter weight trucks would only haul a set weight which would eliminate larger commodities from that market driving freight costs down.

Oct, 02 2012

That trailer looks like it loses a lot of useability in terms of accomodating a forklift and decking shipments... it's made for show, and not for real use.

Jonathan Hightower
Logistics sales
A-1 Freeman
Oct, 05 2012

I'm curious to know, as to what type of powerplant are you using for this new MAN truck? Why isn't someone using an electric diesel hybrid class 8 truck?

George Foushi
Truck Freight Business Manager
Knight Transportation
Nov, 06 2012

First, more length is not possible in many european countries, and the aerodynamic concepts. It is another uninspired idea, because the actual trucks are more resistent, viable and this design is too futuristic for 2017-2030. Think also that only 4/5 of population now descovered the elecricity (in Africa, some regions of India, etc.) I think that there are more important problems than a design like this.

Muntean George
Not Provided
Jan, 17 2017