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Automotive Testing Technology International - Designing trucks for platooning

If Tesla wants its planned electric truck to come with enough range that is acceptable to haulage fleets, it might need to accelerate research into platooning. Platooning is when smart trucks connect digitally to travel in close convoy, in order to improve overall fuel economy.

The benefits of drafting in this manner have been proven. In April this year, a fleet of trucks from all of the major European manufacturers linked via wi-fi to take part in a Dutch-organized transcontinental drive. They cut following distances from around 160ft to 50ft and saved around 10% on fuel. Exa has partnered with OEMs as well to investigate the platooning effect through simulation. Two papers, presented at SAE International conferences, (2014-01-2436 with Peterbilt, and 2015-01-2896 with Volvo) have shown how multi-vehicle platooning affects the aerodynamics and leads to fuel economy improvement.