Strick Trailers, an American manufacturer of aluminum sheet and post trailers, said its “pleased” to have played a key role in the development of the Shell Starship.
The futuristic concept vehicle, which was designed and built by AirFlow Truck Company, pulls a custom-built, “super lightweight” 53-foot Strick trailer.
The Shell team calls the Starship “an innovative, material step toward reducing emissions and increasing overall efficiency and fuel economy in the transport sector. This next-generation truck features a custom, aerodynamic design and aims to demonstrate improvements in fuel economy for Class 8 trucks while lowering CO2 emissions.”
The sleek Starship looks like it belongs in Star Trek, not on I-80 carrying freight, and it’s fully loaded with high-tech gadgetry, making the cab’s interior look like the cockpit of a super-sonic stealth fighter jet. Aerodynamic features abound, from the smooth tractor nose with active grill system to the tractor/trailer gap sealer, pneumatic landing gear that fully retracts, low-slung continuous full-length skirts, and modified Stemco TrailerTail at the rear.
The trailer is a Strick Model 99 sheet and post dry van with customized specs to reduce weight and maximize fuel efficiency.
“Trailers are as important, aerodynamically, as the tractor is, all things considered,” said Bob Sliwa, president of AirFlow.
Justin Bell, Strick Trailers’ director of engineering, agrees.
“While much effort has been devoted over the last two decades to making tractors more fuel efficient, the trailer has remained largely ignored when, in reality, a few special design options can bring significant fuel savings,” Bell said.
“Where else can a fleet get that kind of productivity today?”
From the factory, the 53-foot Strick trailer in the StarShip rig included the following weight and fuel saving options:
- Anti-slip aluminum floor in lieu of laminated oak
- Aluminum crossmembers in the bay in lieu of steel
- Aluminum side posts in lieu of galvanized steel
- PTS50 Pneumatic folding landing gear in lieu of fixed
- No interior lining, scuff only, in lieu of plywood or plastic lining with scuff
- Whiting Innovator swing doors in lieu of composite plate
- Low riding resistant tires
- PSI tire inflation system
- Disc brakes in lieu of drum type
- Estimated tare weight – 10,900 lbs +/- 3%
“Lighter trailers save fuel, but not all fleets are well advised to incorporate all these light weight features in their trailers,” Bell said. “Consideration needs to be given to cargoes to be carried, operational circumstances and long-term maintenance costs.
“At Strick, we help the customer work through these choices in a process we call ‘Customer-ization’ to result in the optimal trailer for their fleet.”