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In a world where the price of fuel is consistently trending upward and the average over-the-road truck gets roughly 6.5 miles per gallon (mpg), some owner-operators are going to great lengths to improve their fuel economy.
With a drive to increase efficiency and minimize fuel consumption, Landstar business capacity owners (BCOs), the company’s term for independent truck owner-operators, are no exception. BCOs Alec Costerus and Steve Kron, who each drive older model trucks, have made it their mission to reduce their trucks’ carbon footprints.
“To achieve double-digit fuel economy you have to pay attention to the minutest details in and around your truck,” says Alec Costerus. “Small changes can make a big difference.”
From side skirts, nose cones and trailer tails, to filling air gaps and removing unnecessary objects and emblems from the truck, both BCOs have spent years seeking maximum fuel efficiency.
“Every little detail matters when it comes to aerodynamics. I even go as far as to remove things that don’t need to be on the outside of the truck, like extra door handles and emblems,” says Kron. “Everything is in compliance, the things I remove aren’t necessary. When it comes down to details, the items take away from the aerodynamics of the truck.”
In addition to the tools available to improve aerodynamics on their trucks, advancements in wind speed, tire pressure and cargo weight monitoring technologies make the return on their fuel-saving investments clear.
“All of the technologies out there make it so much easier to track everything – and a lot of it is mobile app-based and free for owner-operators to use,” says Kron. “I wish these technologies were around when I started down this path 10 years ago – data on weight, wind and tire pressure helps me run my businesses better.”
Kron, a Million Mile Safe Driver who leased to Landstar in 1992, drives a 2001 International IHC 9400, achieving a steady 10 mpg fuel economy that he says pumps up his revenue.
“On average I can achieve double-digit efficiency,” says Kron. “The time I invest is worth the payback. It’s something I think every BCO should be doing no matter how old the truck. All the money I save on fuel, goes right back into the truck and to other modifications to improve efficiency.”
Costerus, who leased to Landstar in 2013, runs a 2011 Volvo VNL tractor. After years of updates to his truck, he reports running at more than 9 mpg on average.
“You can achieve great fuel economy in an older truck and run as efficiently as some newer models,” says Costerus. “There is so much more to fuel economy than engine horsepower, torque ratings and rear-end ratios. If the winds are right, trailer axel raised, conditions are perfect and everything is aligned properly, my truck will sometimes exceed 11 mpg,” says Costerus.
Both Costerus and Kron have transformed their trucks into fuel saving machines, proving fuel efficiency beyond the national average is possible with the right technology and know-how.
“It is so much better to work smarter, not harder and nowhere is that more applicable than for the hardworking professional truck driver,” says Costerus. “It is important. You are improving your bottom line while preserving the environment.”
All modifications made to Costerus’ and Kron’s trucks are within federal guidelines of the FMCSA and are in compliance with Landstar’s standards.