TrailerTail reduces drag, saves fuel, looks funny

The panels attach to a big rig's rear end to improve aerodynamics. Someone may need to rewrite that old country song as "18 Wheels, a Dozen Roses, and a TrailerTail."

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Aerodynamic TrailerTail at work.
Catch a trailer by the tail. ATDynamics

You're driving down the highway. A big rig passes. Everything seems normal till you see a strange contraption attached to the rear of the trailer.

Is it a ramp for Knight Rider? Part of a rocket booster system? No, it's a TrailerTail, a device designed to improve the aerodynamics of bulky tractor-trailers.

Gas prices are bad enough for folks with a daily commute. Imagine the pump pain that trucking companies are feeling right now. According to manufacturer ATDynamics, the TrailerTail delivers 6.6 percent fuel savings at 65 mph. That can really add up when you're clocking thousands of miles each week.

The TrailerTail may look like a giant piece of unfinished origami, but there is a lot of thought behind the design. The panels are made from reinforced thermoplastic and the system can be deployed in just 4 seconds. It delivers on fuel economy by reducing the trailer's rear drag. That also translates to lower emissions, always a nice bonus.

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An $18,000 starter pack includes 10 tails and installation. Shipping is extra, but that's why you have your own trucking company, right?

With national trucking fleet Werner Enterprises announcing last week the expansion of its use of TrailerTails, you may start seeing them on the road.

Someone may need to rewrite that old country song as "18 Wheels, a Dozen Roses, and a TrailerTail."