This clever idea does not require the trucks themselves to be modified.
Anything and everything that can be done to lower emissions from transportation (which accounts for roughly 20 percent of global emissions) has got to be good news. Of this 20 percent, almost one third comes from trucks carrying freight, says Statista.
Enter a company called Range Energy: it makes truck trailers, with a clever connection to any standard tractor cab, loaded with electric powertrains to turn any semi into an efficient hybrid. Handily, they also let you push entire trailers around by hand at the depot in "shopping cart mode."
It works with any electric or diesel-powered cab and is perfectly suitable for fleet operations, without any modification to the trucks. It takes its cues from a smart kingpin, which basically senses the acceleration and braking loads that the tractor is putting on the trailer, and uses its electric motors to help out.
Thus, when the cab accelerates and pulls on the kingpin, the motors add torque instantly and proportionally. And when the cab brakes and pushes back against the kingpin, the trailer kicks in with some regenerative braking.
In fuel economy testing performed by Mesilla Valley Transportation Solutions, there was a 37 percent efficiency gain against the test truck's standard fuel consumption.
Range says its first trailers are targeting around a 40 percent efficiency boost over a range of 200 miles (322 km). "In a highly loaded city drive cycle, that number's actually 48 percent," says Range founder Ali Javidan, "on a mixed highway and city cycle, it's 40 percent, and if we're looking at just over the road long-haul trucking, it's a little bit lower than that."