Research identifies potential benefits of higher productivity vehicles

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The American Transportation Research Institute and Cummins Inc. recently released updated research on the energy and emissions impacts of operating commercial vehicles at various weight classes.

Using computer modeling that reflects the operation of trucks with engines meeting current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency engine emission standards, the updated research is said to confirm potential fuel-efficiency improvements that can be achieved through the operation of higher productivity vehicles; these efficiency improvements also yield environmental improvements, according to the data.

“With engine manufacturers striving to make cleaner, more efficient engines, this study highlights how efficiencies can also be gained through operational changes,” says Tim Solso, Cummins chairman and chief executive officer, and a member of the ATRI board of directors.

In addition to investigating the operation of higher productivity vehicles at gross vehicle weights greater than the current federal limit, the updated study also investigated the operation of longer combination vehicles hauling low-density freight. For nearly every vehicle configuration studied, operating at higher weights allowed freight payloads to be increased at a greater rate than the additional fuel required to move the heavier load, the study showed.

“As we look for ways to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, without sacrificing the supply chain efficiencies that the trucking industry supports, higher productivity vehicles should be considered as a viable part of an overarching solution,” says Douglas G. Duncan, president and CEO of FedEx Freight, and chairman of the ATRI board of directors.

A one-page summary of the report is available on the ATRI website, www.atri-online.org. Copies of the full report also can be ordered through the website.