More trucking firms turn to solar power to reduce expenses and pollution, with Freightliner and Mesilla Valley Transportation being among the most recent converts.

Last month Freightliner announced that its new line of Cascadia  Class 8, raised roof sleeper trucks have the option to be ordered with the eNow eCharge solar system, a solar-powered idle-reduction system for trucks as a pre-delivery installation.

According to eNow, the eCharge system has been added to several existing Freightliner fleets, returning positive results in regards to sustainable energy production and consumption.

Jeff Flath, president and chief executive of eNow said implementing the solar system in trucks will reduce costs and prove to be quickly beneficial to drivers whose cabs are outfitted with the system.

“The eNow system has continually proven its value in reducing costs, while also demonstrating its durability over diverse road conditions and in a variety of climates,’’  Flath said. “Drivers and fleet owners who order the eNow system pre-installed will begin realizing the benefits from solar the minute they take delivery.’’

eNow reports that the eCharge system is a solar panel at 0.125 inches thick, with a flexible design that has the ability to contour to the roof of a truck.

As per some of the benefits offered by the panel, eNow reports that the system will supply continual charges to the battery of the truck, powering in-cab HVAC equipment, as well as reportedly increasing a truck’s battery life from six months to three years.

The company also said the eCharge system has the ability to reduce fuel consumption by three gallons per day, an amount that may have otherwise been consumed by engine idling in order to power auxiliary equipment.

According to eNow, the system can be ordered through Freightliner dealership outlets and can be installed at Custom Truck Service centers at the Freightliner manufacturing plants.

Also climbing aboard the solar energy bandwagon is Las Cruces, N.M.-based fleet Mesilla Valley Transportation, which has reportedly purchased nearly 1,000 eNow energy systems for the trucking company’s current Navistar-oriented fleet.

Both Mesilla Valley Transportation and eNow were scheduled to showcase the solar auxiliary power systems at the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) “Run On Less” program slated for early September.

eNow officials said the collaboration with Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) stems from the energy company’s growing presence in the trucking industry and demonstrations from Navistar Fleets in relation to Department of Energy goals set for commercial vehicles.

Royal Jones, MVT’s chief executive, said the trucking company has been searching for systems to improve vehicle efficiency, having tested multiple systems within their fleets.

“We’re always looking for innovative, more effective and efficient ways to operate,’’ Jones said. “Our daily idle time is less than 6 percent on the whole company fleet and we utilize electric APUs 100 percent. Over time we had noticed shortened battery life and shortened alternator life due to the demand on batteries and the fact that we run eight batteries.’’

eNow reports that the results from implementing the solar systems within the Navistar fleets at the company have showed conclusive outcomes over the course of several diverse road conditions.

MVT also reports that the daily run time for auxiliary equipment in the trucks has increased, as has the battery life in trucks and nearly three gallons of fuel per day.

According to eNow, the results from testing the systems at Navistar Proving Grounds along with testing conducted at MVT led the trucking company to purchase the eNow systems for their fleets.

Flath said the success of his company’s systems may lie in the fact that many entities in the trucking industry are attempting to reduce expenditures and operate with the livelihood of the environment in mind.

“These are exciting times for the transportation industry,’’Flath said. “Everyone is looking at ways to reduce cost, improve efficiency, and help the environment, simultaneously. We are about saving fleets money with our technology first and foremost. However, we also believe that leaving the environment in better shape than we found it is critical as well.’’

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