It is no secret that American consumers are being squeezed by high energy prices. With the average cost of gas at record highs, some families are delaying vacation or travel plans this summer.
High gas prices are also impacting one of the most important sectors of our economy: trucking and transportation. Around three-quarters of all goods in the U.S. are transported by truck. With diesel prices nearing $7 per gallon, it’s no wonder that prices for nearly everything are going up.
Enter TruckLabs, an innovative startup based in Redwood City, California. TruckLabs, started six years ago by Daniel Burrows, is a trucking technology company that creates products to reduce the emissions of the trucking industry by increasing fuel efficiency. That saves consumers, drivers, and businesses money.
Mr. Burrows recently joined Drew Bond as a part of our Tech Voices interview series.
Prior to launching TruckLabs, Burrows studied physics and climate modeling at Imperial College London, then made his way through different energy consulting and venture investing firms. It was during these experiences that Daniel decided to start TruckLabs, as he explains:
“I decided that the solution to the climate challenge we face should come from the free market, from businesses doing well, making sustainable profits, but also looking after the environment we’re all living in.”
“I founded TruckLabs with the thesis that trucking is an important, critical part of our national infrastructure. 80-90% of the stuff around you came from a truck, however it also has a lot of emissions associated with that. I wanted to build technology which was good for the truckers, helps them increase their bottom line, and also save the environment. A win-win solution.”
TruckLabs’ staple product is the TruckWing, a tractor-mounted aerodynamic device. It improves vehicle fuel efficiency and saves drivers thousands of dollars in fuel costs each year.
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As Burrows explains it, “we noticed is that two-thirds of your fuel, whatever fuel source that is, is spent overcoming aerodynamic track.” Using his background in physics, Burrows designed a device that would bridge the gap between trailer and truck, subsequently increasing aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
This is not only beneficial for the environment and the bottom line, but for drivers as well. According to TruckLabs’ own calculations, implementing TruckWings can save a trucker 4% to 6% per year on fuel costs. The cost-savings and emissions reduction potential of TruckWings has attracted interest from several corporate sponsors including Pepsi, UPS, and Ryder.
TruckLabs is also expanding its portfolio to include AI technologies to increase fuel efficiency. TripDynamics uses what Burrows calls “the fuel factors:” weather, terrain, the equipment being pulled, the driver, the trailer load, and speed to help drivers understand how and why fuel economy may decrease and present options to improve miles per gallon in the future.
Implementing both products can save drivers “north of 10%” each year, Burrows says. “In the industry that’s $20 billion of diesel that we can save. For a trucker they spend, depending on how they drive, about $80,000 a year on fuel so you can give them an $8,000 pay raise from this and it’s money straight into their pockets.”
While the company is young, its future is indeed bright. TruckLabs’ innovative solutions show that free market economics and environmental stewardship go hand in hand.