Transportation Industry Looks To Aerodynamics As Mega Trend For Sustainability

Transportation Industry Looks To Aerodynamics As Mega Trend For Sustainability

The Future Is Aerodynamic

If you thought that aerodynamics was just for airplanes, you would have been right…a few years ago. Nowadays, the transportation industry on the ground is seeking to streamline fleets with aerodynamic solutions as trends in sustainability continue to grow.

With the cost of diesel fuel going up, as well as increased government activity to reduce greenhouse gases, interest in aerodynamics is becoming a hot topic in land transportation.

Aerodynamics reduces air drag which means lowered fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, therefore, becoming popular for fleets.

“For long-haul operators, there’s a definite advantage to streamlining with aerodynamic products, and fleets are doing it through trial and error at the moment,” said Dave Walters, Alcoa Wheels’ manager of warranty and field service who acted as chairman for the Technology and Maintenance Council’s (TMC) Recommended Practice (RP) 261, Considerations for Aerodynamic Wheel Covers over in the US.


Doug Mason, Alcoa Wheels’ global technology manager shares the following example to highlight the trial and error:

“A fleet that adds a trailer skirt might see 5 percent savings. They might then decide to add another component that should provide an additional 2 percent savings, but only realize 4 percent instead of seeing a total 7 percent in savings.” Mason explains, “The interaction between the two components did change the airflow, but because of the complexity of the truck and trailer designs themselves, the addition of the second aerodynamic device may have actually created more drag.”


Mike Yagley, Alcoa Wheels’ global program lunch manager explains, “The aerodynamics of trucks are just so complex, and the best data out there belongs to the fleets. They know exactly what they get for the aerodynamics. Aerodynamics are always one of our favorite things to talk about, because it’s a technology that at least we see as being consistently valuable. We’re also a lightweighting company and we have something to say to that. You’re adding weight to your vehicle, and we can help balance that out.”

Listen to Doug Mason and Mike Yagley’s conversation with NACFE’s Mike Roeth here

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What do Alcoa® wheels have to do with aerodynamics?

To improve aerodynamic performance, equipment is added to the vehicle, which adds weight.


Alcoa® Wheels is at the forefront of what is working in the field of aerodynamics. What wheel experts like Doug Mason, Dave Walters and Mike Yagley are seeing is that the benefits of aerodynamic products in the future, especially wheels, will far outweigh the setbacks of the current ‘test and measure’ phase –  such as proper installation of aerodynamic devices, choosing the right ones or ensuring they don’t damage parts of the vehicle to which they’re mounted.

The global leaders in aluminum wheel innovation recently announced new, groundbreaking Aerodynamic Solutions for the market, that delivers fuel savings and helps fleets further improve freight efficiency—the steer wheel cover and the drive wheel cover plus wheel. The new products add aerodynamic advantages to Alcoa® wheels, provide fuel savings by way of reducing air drag, are durable, easy to install and allow for seamless wheel inspections to obtain the most out of every mile.

Alcoa® Wheels is proud to offer solutions that provide an innovation that offers significant fuel savings and efficiencies while also addressing and finding resolution for maintenance, installation and performance concerns identified by fleets.

Aerodynamic Steer Cover
This patent-pending design is engineered specifically to push air away from the tire/wheel and vehicle, limiting aerodynamic drag. Backed by rigorous testing, including Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), wind tunnel and test track analysis, the new cover enhances performance as compared to a full-wheel cover or no cover at all. The adoption of the aerodynamic steer cover is easy to implement for a quick return on investment. Learn more.

  • Verified fuel savings; saves up to 0.39 gallons of fuel per 1,000 miles
  • Estimated $136 annual fuel savings per truck based on 100,000 miles per year
  • Two-year warranty, twice the protection of competitive products
  • Compatible with all 10 x 285.75mm bolt circle wheels
  • Durable retention system
  • Available in Matte Black and Chrome finishes

Aerodynamic Drive Cover + Wheel
An exclusive cover plus wheel system, this cover is designed for the 22.5” x 8.25” and 22.5” x 14” wheels, part numbers ULA18x, 84U61x and 84U64x. The cover’s design powers fuel efficiency while weighing less than comparable solutions. Its innovative design features a unique approach in attachment style. The cover provides a measurement-free installation process. It is also affixed to a ring, which is secured in the flange groove of the wheel (patent-pending flange design), leaving the hub unburdened by heavy brackets and ensuring appropriate mounting consistency and for maximum results. Additionally, the cover features a 9” inspection opening, which allows for a clear view of all wheel-end components, eliminating the need for wheel cover removal during pre-trip, post-trip, road-side inspections and tire inflation. Learn more.

  • Saves up to 0.96 gallons of fuel per 1,000 miles
  • Estimated $336 annual fuel savings per truck based on 100,000 miles per year
  • Proprietary flange mounted design ensures consistent offset position, which secures expected aerodynamic benefits consistently; compared to existing offerings on the market that are not conducive to providing consistent results
  • No challenging brackets attached to the wheel-end resulting in measurement-free installation
  • Available in Alcoa® Wheels advanced finishes High Polish and Matte Black

Additional benefits include:

  • Initial system installation in under four minutes (per wheel)
  • One-time ring installation
  • One-time ring installation
  • A 9” opening allows for effortless inspections and tire inflation without cover or ring removal

Alcoa® Wheels’ Aerodynamic Wheel Covers are intended to work as a complete system in order to maximize aerodynamic benefits and incur a combined savings of up to 1.35 gallons of fuel per 1,000 miles or an estimated $472 annual fuel savings per truck. A first of its kind approach to aerodynamics, this is another state-of-the-art innovation for the commercial trucking market. The Aerodynamic Steer Wheel Cover and Aerodynamic Drive Cover + Wheel is the ultimate in technology, achieving optimal performance when performing together.

Larger fleets may spec Alcoa Wheels as standard across their equipment, as this provides a stable and consistent measure while trying new technologies to lower emissions and meet standards.