Case Studies

Collaboration and high-quality tires save fuel and emissions in Beijing truck fleets

First published: 2016 - Collaboration between SFC, the Beijing Transport Institute and 5 tire manufacturers achieved a total of 12,000 to 26,000 RMB (2,700 to 3,700 USD) savings per truck every year


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What was done

Smart Freight Centre partnered with the Beijing Transport Development Institute (now BTI) and 5 tire manufacturers in 2016 in 2016 for a project to test the energy saving and emission reduction potential of trucks equipped with high-quality tires. We selected 3 trucking operators of different sizes from a pool of about 50 for the pilot whose management was committed. Ten tire manufacturers and their agents were screened to select "high quality tires" that lasted long, had low rolling resistance to reduce fuel use, and met Chinese tire safety standards. Several of the tires had also been included in the US SmartWay's technology verification program.

Overcoming barriers

The 3 trucking operators chose themselves which tires they wanted to test and monitored fuel use. The tire agents gave training to the fleet managers and drivers because they knew very little about tires, and measured the thickness of the tire thread over time -- this is an indicator of how long the tire will last. What also helped is that tire agents allowed operators to pay in instalments so that the more expensive high-quality tires could be paid off after savings were secured. A barrier to overcome was resistance from drivers: they receive a fuel allowance and for that reason tend to over-inflate tires . So companies had to change their incentives, giving drivers a financial bonus also based on how long the tires lasted.


High-quality tires saved fuel by 2.6% to 3.5% compared with common tires. Based on an annual average driving distance of 100,000 km, the annual fuel savings per vehicle ranged from 740 to 1,011 liters, resulting in fuel cost savings of 8,400 to 15,600 RMB (about 1,000 to 2,200 USD). The service life of high-quality tires is 1.77 to 2.5 longer than that of common tires. The service life of common tires ranges between 150,000 - 180,000 km, while high-quality tires last between 280,000 and 350,000 km. This saved the company another 4,000 to 10,400 RMB per truck.

With a total of 12,000 to 26,000 RMB (2,700 to 3,700 USD) savings per truck every year from fuel and improved service life, the payback was less that a year.
Imagine: an operator with 100 long-distance trucks could save as much as 370,000 USD this way every year! This strong business case convinced all 3 operators to change their purchasing policy and only buy high quality tires from then on, gradually replacing them for their entire fleets.

First, we forged an ongoing collaboration between the 5 participating tire brands who now work with their agents to provide many more operators truck and tire maintenance service. To overcome the investment gap, they also introduced a financing scheme, that allows operators to pay in installments, thus allowing them to pay after they made savings! This is an important factor as carriers are usually cash-strapped. They can now scale up faster.

Second, we started a new pilot with aerodynamics equipment together with Wabco, and created an animation video to explain how aerodynamics equipment can save fuel.

Participating companies and organisations

Guangdong University of Technology, Hesheng Logistics, Jiate Logistics, Jinlong Logistics, Mingqiang Logistics, Zhengtie Logistics, Suitong Logistics, Rudong Logistics, Qiantong Logistics and Wanshun Logistic, Beijing Xiang Long Logistics, He Zhong Logistics , Qing Xiao Logistics

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