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Airplane flaps on trucks may cut costs, save lives

A radical idea to round the nose of trucks and add airplane-like flaps to the back, maybe cut fuel costs, reduce emissions and even save lives.

European transport commissioner Siim Kallas wants to change the 1996 specifications for trucks, arguing that the current shape of most heavy goods vehicles is too square: "A brick is the least aerodynamic shape you can imagine, that's why we need to improve the shape of our lorries on the roads."  Kallas argues that more aerodynamic trucks which include a rounded front and airplane like flaps on the back, would cut fuel consumption and carbon emissions by as much as 10%. At the same time, a redesign would improve the drivers’ field of view, ensuring that cyclists and pedestrians are safe and in view.

This futuristic truck by Luigi Colani isn't the actual proposed design, but we may be heading in this direction


Kallas explains that the typical long-haul truck in Europe travels as much as 100,000km every year, and if more aerodynamic bodies were designed for them, it would lead to fuel savings of up to €5000. Around one in six freight trucks in Europe are long distance haulers, and with a total of 6.5 million trucks, accounting for 70% of inland freight, that amounts to a lot of savings.


The proposal needs to pass through the European Parliament, where it must be voted on by the 27 member states before becoming law. If successful, the new trucks would be seen on the roads as early as 2018-2020. The proposal comes after the January reform of rules constituting emissions from busses and trucks, which aims to cut the emission standards set in 2008. The new rules would see nitrogen oxide emissions cut by 80% and particulates by 66%

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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