Advanced Aerodynamics for Low Carbon Trucks

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Advanced aerodynamics for trucks involves designing and engineering truck bodies and components to minimize drag and maximize fuel efficiency. By reducing the amount of air resistance, trucks can travel further on the same amount of fuel, lowering emissions and operating costs.

Impact on climate action

Advanced Aerodynamics revolutionizes low-carbon trucks, enhancing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. By streamlining airflow around vehicles, it slashes fuel consumption, mitigating climate change. With decreased carbon footprint per mile, it sets a precedent for eco-friendly transportation, accelerating global efforts toward sustainable mobility and combating climate crisis.


  • Aerodynamic Design Principles: Advanced aerodynamics draws on principles of fluid dynamics to create streamlined shapes that reduce drag. This includes optimizing the truck’s cab shape, underbody design, and the flow of air around the truck.
  • Wind Tunnel Testing: Wind tunnel testing is a critical process for evaluating and refining aerodynamic designs. Trucks are placed in a controlled environment with simulated wind conditions to measure drag forces and identify areas for improvement.
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD): CFD simulations use advanced computer models to analyze airflow patterns around a truck. CFD analysis can help identify areas where drag is high and suggest modifications to improve aerodynamic performance.
  • Active Aerodynamics: Active aerodynamic features, such as adjustable spoilers and underbody panels, can be deployed to further reduce drag during specific driving conditions, like highway travel.

TRL : 6-7 (Widely Commercialized, with Continuous Advancements)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Streamlined Cab Design: Truck manufacturers are constantly refining cab shapes to reduce drag. This includes integrating side fairings, optimizing window shapes, and implementing smooth transitions between the cab and the trailer.
  • Aerodynamic Underbody Panels: Underbody panels can significantly reduce drag by smoothing the flow of air beneath the truck. These panels can be made from various materials, including composites and high-strength plastics.
  • Optimized Trailer Design: Trailer shapes and features are also being optimized for aerodynamic efficiency. This includes rounded corners, reduced gaps between the trailer and the truck, and the use of aerodynamic skirts to smooth the airflow.
  • Active Aerodynamic Systems: Active systems, such as adjustable spoilers and underbody panels, can be deployed to further reduce drag during specific driving conditions. These systems can be controlled by the truck’s computer system based on real-time data analysis.
  • Lightweight Materials: Using lightweight materials, such as composites and advanced plastics, for truck body components can reduce overall weight, further improving fuel efficiency.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Streamlined Vehicle Shapes
  • Underbody Aerodynamic Panels
  • Trailer Aerodynamic Optimization
  • Active Aerodynamic Spoilers
  • Wind Tunnel Testing Techniques
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulation
  • Continuous Aerodynamic Innovations
  • Side Fairing Integration
  • Window Shape Optimization
  • Seamless Cab-Trailer Transitions
  • Composite Underbody Panel Development
  • High-Strength Plastic Utilization
  • Rounded Trailer Corner Design
  • Gap Reduction Solutions
  • Aerodynamic Skirt Implementation
  • Real-Time Active Aerodynamic Control
  • Computerized Aerodynamic Adjustment
  • Lightweight Composite Materials
  • Advanced Plastic Component Integration
  • Fuel Efficiency Enhancement Strategies

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • FlowBelow:
    • Technology Focus: FlowBelow specializes in aerodynamic solutions for commercial vehicles, particularly focusing on improving fuel efficiency through advanced airflow management. Their products may include wheel covers, fairings, and other aerodynamic devices designed to reduce drag and improve overall vehicle performance.
    • Uniqueness: FlowBelow stands out for its innovative approach to aerodynamics, leveraging advanced engineering and design principles to optimize airflow around commercial vehicles. Their solutions are tailored specifically for the trucking industry, offering significant fuel savings and emissions reductions.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments are likely transportation and logistics companies operating fleets of commercial vehicles, including long-haul trucking, regional delivery, and freight transportation.
  • TruckWings:
    • Technology Focus: TruckWings specializes in active aerodynamic systems for trucks, focusing on deployable wing technology that adjusts based on vehicle speed to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency. Their solutions may include retractable panels or wings that automatically deploy at higher speeds to streamline airflow around the trailer.
    • Uniqueness: TruckWings stands out for its active aerodynamic approach, offering dynamic solutions that adapt to real-time driving conditions to maximize fuel savings. Their technology could provide significant benefits for long-haul trucking fleets, where small improvements in aerodynamics can lead to substantial cost savings over time.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments are likely similar to FlowBelow, catering to transportation and logistics companies seeking innovative solutions to reduce fuel consumption and operating costs.
  • Volta Trucks:
    • Technology Focus: Volta Trucks focuses on developing electric commercial vehicles with advanced aerodynamic designs optimized for urban delivery applications. Their trucks may feature streamlined bodies, aerodynamic fairings, and other design elements to improve efficiency and extend range.
    • Uniqueness: Volta Trucks stands out for its integration of aerodynamics with electric vehicle technology, offering emission-free transportation solutions designed specifically for urban environments. Their trucks combine the benefits of aerodynamic efficiency with the sustainability of electric powertrains, addressing the growing need for cleaner and more efficient urban logistics.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments include urban delivery and logistics companies looking to transition to electric vehicles for last-mile transportation, as well as municipalities seeking sustainable solutions to reduce emissions and congestion in urban areas.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. University of Michigan:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Michigan are focusing on advanced aerodynamic designs for trucks to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency. They are leveraging computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and wind tunnel experiments to optimize the shape of truck components such as cab, trailer, and side fairings.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The University of Michigan’s research integrates cutting-edge aerodynamic principles with real-world testing to validate the performance of their designs. They are exploring innovative concepts such as active flow control and adaptive aerodynamics to further enhance the efficiency of low carbon trucking technologies.
    • End-use Applications: The aerodynamic solutions developed at the University of Michigan have direct applications in the trucking industry, enabling fleet operators to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By optimizing the aerodynamics of trucks, companies can achieve significant cost savings and environmental benefits.
  2. University of California, Berkeley:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at UC Berkeley are exploring advanced aerodynamic concepts for trucks, including vortex generators, streamlined cab designs, and trailer skirts. They are using advanced computational models and optimization algorithms to design and evaluate these aerodynamic features for maximum fuel efficiency.
    • Uniqueness of Research: UC Berkeley’s research focuses on a holistic approach to improving the aerodynamics of trucks, considering the interaction between different components and the surrounding airflow. They are also investigating the integration of emerging technologies such as autonomous driving and platooning to further enhance the aerodynamic performance of trucking fleets.
    • End-use Applications: The aerodynamic innovations developed at UC Berkeley have broad applications in the transportation industry, particularly in long-haul trucking and logistics. By reducing aerodynamic drag, companies can achieve significant fuel savings and reduce their carbon footprint, contributing to the transition towards a more sustainable transportation system.
  3. Stanford University:
    • Technology Enhancements: Stanford researchers are developing advanced aerodynamic solutions for trucks using a combination of experimental testing and computational modeling. They are focusing on novel design concepts such as active flow control, morphing structures, and biomimetic-inspired aerodynamics to improve fuel efficiency.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Stanford’s research emphasizes the integration of bio-inspired principles with engineering design to create innovative aerodynamic solutions for low carbon trucking. They are investigating how natural phenomena such as bird flight and fish swimming can inspire new approaches to reducing aerodynamic drag in trucks.
    • End-use Applications: The aerodynamic technologies developed at Stanford University have practical applications in the trucking industry, offering opportunities for fleet operators to optimize their vehicles for improved fuel efficiency and environmental performance. By adopting advanced aerodynamic solutions, companies can achieve competitive advantages while reducing their environmental impact.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Advanced aerodynamic features are already being widely implemented by truck manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers. Several companies offer a range of aerodynamic add-ons, such as side fairings, roof spoilers, and trailer skirts, for both new and existing trucks.

  • Volvo Trucks: Volvo incorporates aerodynamic features in its trucks, including optimized cab designs and underbody panels, to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
  • Daimler Trucks: Daimler also integrates advanced aerodynamics into its trucks, using streamlined shapes and optimized components to reduce drag and minimize fuel consumption.