Michelin branches out with new aerodynamic trailer efficiency solution

 Michelin's Energy Guard trailer aerodynamic package provides a 7.4% fuel efficiency improvement with no driver input needed.

Michelin's Energy Guard trailer aerodynamic package provides a 7.4% fuel efficiency improvement with no driver input needed.

For a tire company, Michelin has a lot on its plate.

“We do consider our mission is broader than tires, and it’s bringing [sustainable] mobility solutions to our customers,” Adam Murphy, vice president of marketing, said, during a press conference on Sunday at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition.

Murphy explained that Michelin’s services – including its tire service and maintenance programs – are part of that broader mission to deliver solutions based around improving mobility for its customers. Michelin did introduce a new tire, the X One Line Grip D, but it’s other announcement stole most of the spotlight. The company is launching the Energy Guard, a trailer kit of aerodynamic solutions for 53-foot trailers.

The Energy Guard is made up of five components and must be purchased as a package. According to Murphy, the kit includes a resilient trailer skirt, trailer-end fairings, aerodynamic mud flaps and a wake reducer. Combined, fleets can see a 7.4% improvement in fuel savings with the kit versus running a similar trailer without it. That equates to $3,000 per truck per 100,000 miles with fuel priced at $3 per gallon.

In developing the system, Murphy said Michelin asked itself a simple question: “How could we bring an aero solution that delivered on fuel savings but addressed the pain points our customers are feeling,” he said.

One of those pain points is damage to skirts. The resilient trailer skirt and special bracket and slider include spring action to add stability, but also flexibility. The skirt is designed to be bend both inward and outward and “snap” back into place.

The wake reducer, which looks a little like small bars running across the rear trailer doors, trips downward the flowing air to reduce the primary recirculation zone in a trailer’s wake. It is similar to a spoiler on a race car. It does not interfere with the opening of the doors.

Drag-reducing trailer end fairings require no cutouts for hinges and have no overhang to reduce the chance of damage.

“What you have with Michelin Energy Guard is 100% compliance with no intervention needed by the driver to get the full benefits,” Murphy noted.

The Energy Guard will come at about a 10% cost premium compared to purchasing the individual components, but Murphy is confident that fleets will see financial rewards through reduced maintenance costs and fuel savings.

 

Michelin’s X One Line Grip D single wide tire offers up to 10% fuel savings versus dual tires it replaces and up to 740 pounds of weight savings on a tractor-trailer combo when fully equipped compared to duals.

Designed for dry van, reefer and tanker operations primarily, Murphy said “fleets engaging in long haul will see the most benefit from Line Grip D.”

Among its more impressive features is a 25% better snow traction compared to “leading competitors,” Murphy said, and its open shoulder design for better grip in adverse weather conditions. The tire has earned a “three peak mountain snowflake” (3PMSF) designation for use in severe snow conditions.

It is available in 445/50R22.5 and 455/55R22.5 sizes.

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