Michael Roeth

Executive Director,
North American Council for Freight Efficiency
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Mike has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as the Executive Director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.   Mike is also leading the Trucking Efficiency Operations for the Carbon War Room.  Mike’s specialty is brokering green truck collaborative technologies into the real world at scale.  He has a BS in Engineering from the Ohio State University and a Masters in Organizational Leadership from the Indiana Institute of Technology.  Mike served as Chairman of the Board for the Truck Manufacturers Association, Board member of the Automotive Industry Action Group and currently serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.


Terrain and road surface affect fuel economy

One of the things we learned during Run on Less, the fuel economy road show, was that many factors play a role in fuel economy.

We looked at things like weather, temperature and elevation during the three weeks of the Run. I did an earlier blog on the impact of winds as the Run took place during both hurricane Harvey and hurricane Irma.

Mother Nature and fuel economy

Fleets can do a variety of things to control their freight efficiency. But one thing outside their control is weather especially wind and temperature. Both of those elements can impact how much fuel a truck consumes.

Headwinds and crosswinds reduce truck fuel economy by increasing aerodynamic drag. Drivers heading in an east-west direction are almost sure to run into crosswinds and headwinds. In fact most drivers will have to deal with wind of some sort because in the United States at any given time there is a 7-mile per hour wind in some direction.

Good news on how to improve fuel efficiency

The bad news is there is no magic formula for improving fuel efficiency. The good news is that seven fleets just demonstrated that there are at least seven ways to achieve 10 MPG in real-world operation.

During the recent Run on Less 17-day fuel-economy road show, trucks logged more than 50,000 miles and averaged 10.1 MPG.  But the news gets even better: three different trucks had daily MPGS of more than 12.5 and the highest daily MPG was 12.8.

Even the average daily low for these seven trucks was 8.8, much higher than the national average of 6.4.

More freight and more MPGs

This past spring Reuters published an article with the following headline: U.S. Energy Information Administration Projects Diesel Fuel Consumption Increase on Growing Freight Transport Demand.

The article stated that U.S. freight movements have been increasing which will boost the consumption of diesel fuel. It also said, “The tonnage of freight moved by road, rail, barge, pipeline and air cargo has been increasing year on year since October, after stagnating for much of 2015/16.”

Fleets still improving MPG, study shows

Even a 1% increase in MPG can have a significant impact on reducing operating costs. In our 2017 Annual Fleet Fuel Study we reported findings from 19 fleets operating more than 71,124 tractors and 234,292 trailers.

Clean diesels reach 30%

The number of trucks with clean diesel engines has reached 30% according to research by the Diesel Technology Forum. There are now nearly 3 million trucks on the road with these clean diesel engines.

These trucks are producing fewer carbon dioxide emissions, less NOx emissions and are showing significant improvements in fuel economy.

Great at their craft

Last week, we announced the drivers and showcased the equipment that will participate in RunonLess, a first-of-its kind fuel efficiency roadshow sponsored by Shell and PepsiCo, and hosted by NACFE and Carbon War Room.  It gave us a chance to share the amazing equipment and talented drivers that will demonstrate what can be done with currently available tractors and trailers to save fuel and emissions.

The challenges of measuring fuel economy 1

With Run on Less in the works, I’ve spent a fair amount of time working with our team on MPG lately.  We’ve looked at questions such as:

Let the sun shine

When most people think of solar power they think of it as a renewable energy solution for homes, office buildings or airports.  We see these panels springing up all over our country.

But solar also has a place in the trucking industry. Solar panels added to trucks can capture energy from the sun — free energy I might add — and convert it into usable power.

6x2 axles still deserve consideration

If you haven’t at least considered the possibility of switching to 6x2 axles, now is a good time to take a look.

Our recently updated Confidence Report confirms the 2.5% fuel economy savings we first predicted in our 2014 Confidence Report on 6x2s.

Sometimes less really is more

By now we hope you have heard about our cross-country roadshow showcasing real fleets, hauling real freight on real routes.

We are looking forward to the September kick off of Run on Less so that we can demonstrate that with a combination of technology investments and good driving practices trucks can achieve fuel economy above 6.4 MPG (the national average). During the Run we are hoping average MPGs of all seven drivers will reach 9.

The right technology plus the right driver: A winning combination 1

In order for a fleet to achieve its fuel economy goals it needs the right combination of technologies and driver engagement.

And while some technology — like automated transmissions — lessens the impact of the driver on the fuel economy equation, the actions of the drivers still matter. Things like hard braking, time at idle, time in cruise control, operating speed (if speed is not governed by the fleet) and “jack rabbit” starts are all under the driver’s control.

Fleets and OEMs continue to work toward more miles per gallon

I am heartened by things I am hearing out in the field.

Earlier this year at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, a panel of OEM representatives responded to questions about what they would do if Phase 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) rules were altered or eliminated.

Basically, it sounds like they are going to stay the course. In part they cited fleets’ continuing demands for greater fuel economy even with diesel fuel prices at relatively low levels.

Better things to do with our money than ‘spend’ it on traffic delays

I’ve talked about how traffic congestion decreases the efficiency of the trucking industry before. But I want to do so again because the American Transportation Research Institute recently came out with the 2017 Update to its Cost of Congestion to the Trucking Industry report.

Tire safety matters every day

Last week was National Tire Safety Week, a time when a spotlight shined on the importance of tires to the safe operation of vehicles. Largely aimed at the motoring public, the week seeks to get vehicle owners to do things like inspect the tread, check alignment and check tire pressure.


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