Mercedes-Benz introduced a new “Aero-Trailer” earlier this week, which the company claims will reduce wind resistance by 18% and improve truckers’ fuel consumption by 5%, cutting harmful C02 emissions by several tons and reducing overall fuel use (and overall fuel costs!) by millions of gallons (and dollars!) each year.
The Devil Is in the Details, So To Speak
It’s often said that it’s the little things that count – Mercedes took that idea and ran with it. Apparently minor adjustments to the trailer aerodynamics are responsible for the (claimed to be) drastic results. An airdam on the front and side panels that prevent under-body air from getting “whipped up” by the trailer’s spinning wheels combine to account for half of the overall improvement, as well.
Since aerodynamic drag is most drastically reduced at the separation point (the rear end of the vehicle), the last 16 inches of trailing edges on Mercedes’ Aero Trailer is somewhat conical (pointy end in the back – looks ridiculous to anyone who isn’t an aerodynamicist, I suspect) … pretty much the opposite of the AirFlow company’s aero-truck concept shown earlier this year.
Sadly, It’s Not Street-Legal
The downside to this nifty trailer is that although the inside is just as big as it ever was, the outside is even bigger; it its current form, Mercedes’ Aero Trailer exceeds the legally limited length by about 20 inches. Mercedes, of course, is still continuing tests (it must be perfected!) using wind tunnel tests and test drives. Other modifications in the works include a tire pressure gauge (since correct tire pressure goes a long way toward keeping the trailer moving properly) and telematics systems for the trailer. The idea is to match the trailer and its intended cargo as ideally as possible.
Will Mercedes solve the problem of reconciling cargo space and aerodynamics? No idea – but I’m sure that (as with the Smart Electric Drive) they’ll keep trying until they get it right.