Dhe automotive world is facing huge changes. This applies first of all to the cars, which relatively soon will only be electric in Europe. In the case of commercial vehicles, the CO2 emissions of which are no less relevant, there are also many signs of electricity, but at least in the medium term, diesel engines will continue to dominate the long haul. A 40-ton truck uses roughly 30 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers, so there is still a lot of potential to save fuel and thus CO2.
Because just under half of the consumption is needed to overcome air resistance, improvements in aerodynamics are actually obvious. But not much has happened so far. The Aachen start-up company Betterflow wants to change that permanently. The two founders, Ingo Martin and Rainer Buffo, know each other from studying at RWTH Aachen University, they studied aerospace engineering. Buffo has already received his doctorate, Martin will soon be. They have been dealing with the subject for 14 years, at that time they threw themselves on trucks because the aerodynamics of an airplane leave little room for new ideas. Betterflow as a start-up has been around since 2014, and an investor in the background has invested more than ten million euros since then.
Now the first Betterflow development is finally ready for the market, there have already been a number of advance praise, various prizes have gone to Aachen. In concrete terms, Betterflow concentrates entirely on the trailer, i.e. the semi-trailer that is attached to the tractor unit. The aerodynamic system is not yet suitable for articulated trains or solo trucks. 30 prototype trailers are currently on the road in Germany for seven different haulage companies, the aerodynamic measures on the trailer should bring savings of 1.8 to 2.0 liters per 100 kilometers. This value crystallizes out after more than four million kilometers driven.
Less air turbulence means less consumption
If the freight forwarder wants to save, he must first spend money. The complete package from Betterflow costs between 8,000 and 9,000 euros, consisting of a slat on the top of the trailer at the front, covering the underbody over almost the entire length with a very tightly stretched tarpaulin and the quite spectacular flaps on the right and left at the rear of the Trailer. They fold out automatically at speeds over 60 km / h and lengthen the vehicle at the rear by half a meter, plus there is another spoiler on the edge of the roof that also extends automatically – and like the entire system, it retracts at 50 km / h . The driver doesn’t have to worry about anything. Because a flap and the necessary mechanics weighs 85 kilograms, it can only be installed on fixed box bodies, but not on the more common trailers with tarpaulin bodies. Betterflow has to leave two thirds of the possible market idle. The system can also be ordered without the flaps, which would save almost a liter. The costs then amount to 2300 euros. Put simply, the measures ensure less air turbulence, which benefits consumption.
The Finnish company Valmet Automotive was won as the producer for the flaps and the entire, rather complex mechanics, which will start series production in its Polish plant in autumn. The fact that the flaps are legally permissible at all is due to a current change in the law by the EU, which in the interests of CO2 savings does not want to torpedo improved aerodynamics with any length regulations. According to Directive 2007/46 / EC, which has been in force since September 2020, flaps at the rear and aerodynamic stems on the tractor are no longer included in the permitted overall lengths – that is 16.50 meters for articulated trucks and 18.75 meters for articulated trucks . In theory, longer flaps would also be possible and useful, but they would no longer be practical.