Aerodynamics is a factor which has a massive influence on fuel consumption and thus also on CO2 emissions. In particular, angular edges on the vehicles can prevent air from flowing freely around it. On modern truck combinations, there are various challenges in this respect, such as the gaps between the tractor unit and the trailer. Air flows create negative pressure in these areas which the truck must subsequently overcome. To overcome this resistance alone, 13 litres of fuel per 100 km are consumed – that's more than a third of the available mechanical energy.
For the tractor, Vion opted for the Mercedes-Benz Actros 1848 LS 4x2. Mercedes-Benz claims that the Actros’s new MirrorCam system, which replaces optical mirrors with digital cameras, reduce fuel consumption by as much as 1.5%. In addition, concave cab side deflectors help optimise the truck's aerodynamics.
A further highlight which increases the truck's efficiency is an improved predictive powertrain control that detects the course of the road and adapts the vehicle's driving behaviour to this; the OEM claims a benefit of up to 5% on out-of-town roads.
In addition, Vion is co-operating with Aachen-based start-up Betterflow. The aerodynamics specialists optimised the shape of the trailer and, in 2020, put the vehicle through large-scale field tests covering more than four million kilometres to prove just how big the fuel savings are in real-world situations. The engineers from Aachen retrofitted three components to the semitrailer: underfloor panelling (LowFLOW), a trailer bulkhead front spoiler (HighFLOW) and the central component – the RearFLOW rear wing system – which automatically opens at a speed of 60 kilometres per hour and closes again when the vehicle is driving slowly.
"The optimisations which result from the aerodynamics package were certified in 2019 by means of constant-speed tests on the Dekra test track, and can thus be integrated in the EU VECTO programme," explains Betterflow managing director Dirk Sieprath.
Now the Vion company has brought into operation the first semitrailer from Schmitz Cargobull, of the latest EcoGeneration, which is equipped with the aerodynamics package from Betterflow. "
Vion's Head of Logistics, Sven Janssen, said: "With successive conversion of our fleet, we at Vion are making a clear step in the direction of a future-oriented food supply chain: if, for example, the aerodynamically optimised truck was to cover an average of 100,000 annual kilometres, we could save a total of half a million litres of diesel and 1,500 tonnes of CO2."