What is the Average MPG for a Semi-Truck?
Newton’s first law of motion states that the more massive an object, the harder it is to make it start or stop. That’s why, despite the various technological advancements to motor vehicles over the decades, semi-trucks aren’t necessarily known for their fuel economy.
Put simply, you burn a lot of fuel to transport a rig weighing tens of thousands of pounds.
But every extra mile per gallon in fuel efficiency can make a difference on your bottom line, especially if you multiply those fuel savings across dozens of trucks in a fleet.
So, what is the average MPG for a semi-truck—and how can you optimize your fleet’s fuel usage? How does the average semi-truck MPG play a factor when determining the most effective ways to reduce fuel cost? You’ll first want to become familiar with the normal MPG range. Then, you can discover which trucks offer the best MPG and other ways to improve your fuel economy.
The Average Semi-Truck MPG
Even the newest semi-trucks can require substantial amounts of fuel. Transporting heavy cargo in a heavy truck to and fro across the country will necessitate the consumption of gallons upon gallons of fuel.
But how much fuel, exactly?
The answer depends on the truck, driver behavior, and truck driver conditions.
Unlike passenger cars, trucks made prior to the last decade were lucky to average 5 miles per gallon. But in 2014, the Obama administration’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency set new fuel efficiency standards for the country’s medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
As a result in the trucking industry, any truck produced after 2014 is legally required to have a fuel economy of at least 7.2 miles per gallon. That said, many semi-trucks can easily rack up more than a million miles on the odometer. The fleet fuel economy should be more streamlined. In addition, a trucking fleet will likely include a mixture of both pre- and post- 2014 trucks, thus reducing the total average mile per gallon of the entire convoy.
A recent report by GeoTab broke down the MPG averages for semi-trucks on a state-by-state basis. The top ten highest MPG averages by state include:
- New Hampshire – 6.29
- Maryland – 6.29
- Minnesota – 6.31
- Nebraska – 6.31
- South Carolina – 6.33
- Montana – 6.33
- Mississippi – 6.34
- Delaware – 6.35
- Wisconsin – 6.35
- Massachusetts – 6.37
Meanwhile, the ten lowest MPG averages by state include:
- Ohio – 5.94
- Vermont – 5.89
- New Mexico – 5.86
- Michigan – 5.86
- Pennsylvania – 5.86
- California – 5.85
- New York – 5.82
- North Dakota – 5.78
- Washington – 5.76
- Texas – 5.60
What Semi-Truck Gets the Best Fuel Mileage?
If you’re the owner-operator of a trucking fleet, your vehicles are your primary investment. Considering that new semi-trucks cost on average between $100,000 to $200,000, you have to be shrewd when you shop.
Although there are many factors to consider in the purchasing equation, fuel economy should be at, or near, the top of your list.
So, what are the most fuel-efficient trucks? According to Commercial Truck Trader, the top four are:
- Freightliner Cascadia Evolution – 10 MPG
- Peterbilt 570 – Just under 10 MPG
- Kenworth T680 – 9 MPG
- Mack Pinnacle – 8 MPG
What Factors Impact Fuel Mileage?
One of the first steps in implementing streamlined fleet fuel management is determining the factors affecting fuel mileage. If you want to increase the fuel economy of your fleet, there are two avenues to consider: heavy truck design and truck driver behavior. Below, we’ll examine how each can impact your fleet’s fuel economy.
Newer models of trucks have incorporated technologies and design elements that can dramatically boost a semi-truck’s fuel efficiency. As you shop for a rig, look for the following features:
- Turbocharged engine – Newer turbocharged engines improve fuel efficiency by applying torque on an as-needed basis.
- Pointed snout – Aerodynamics play an important role in fuel efficiency, contributing as much as 50% to overall fuel economy. Therefore, minimizing drag is essential. The less boxy and more pointy a truck’s snout and cab are, the better its fuel economy will be.
- Boat-tailed trailers – As opposed to a boxed trailer, trailers that taper at the rear end tend to achieve improved fuel economy.
- Automated manual transmissions – Automated manual transmissions can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 30% by minimizing driver impact on improper gear switching.
Even if you have a perfectly streamlined machine, the way a driver uses it can quickly impact its fuel efficiency. To improve your average MPG throughout your fleet, owner-operators will want to regularly coach drivers about fuel-efficient driving.
Common issues to educate your drivers on include:
- Rapid acceleration
- Hard braking
- Excessive idling
- Riding the brakes downhill
- Underinflated tires
- Failing to warm up the vehicle before driving
When hiring new truck drivers, it's important to teach them better driving habits not only for their safety but also for better fuel economy.
AtoB—Supporting Your Fleet
As an owner-operator, protecting your bottom line means prioritizing efficiency in every part of your fleet. Even as newer trucks improve their fuel efficiency to an average of 7 MPG, every additional step you can take to cut costs matters.
To maintain success through the hills and valleys of fuel prices, managing your fuel expenses is paramount. For that, you must be able to track, analyze, and assess your fuel costs and usage.
AtoB can be your cost-saving solution. Our fleet fuel cards have no hidden fees and are universally accepted. Plus, they give you access to top-tier discounts on every gallon of fuel. In addition, the AtoB dashboard provides visibility over fuel consumption and spending and gives you control over driver spending limits and transactions. That way, you know you are on top of your AtoB fuel card and business expenses.
Want to master your fuel consumption? Apply for your own universal fuel card in under five minutes.
NHTSA. Paving the Way Toward Cleaner, More Efficient Trucks.
GeoTab. The State of Fuel Economy in Trucking.
Commercial TruckTrader. 4 of the Most Fuel-Efficient Semi Trucks.
International Trucks. Fuel Economy Aerodynamics.
Fleet Equipment Mag. Automatic and automated manual transmissions can improve fuel efficiency.