In what is regarded as an industry first, a team from American engineering conglomerate Hyliion Inc has developed a hybrid electric-drive trailer tandem which promises transport operators substantial fuel savings and a quick return on investment.

The unit captures energy during braking and, as the tractor-trailer runs downhill, reapplies the saved energy through a drive axle – providing the truck with additional power during launch and acceleration from standstill, as well as on inclines.

Operation is autonomous – with the only driver involvement being the application of an on/off switch. The system’s electronic controls examine the road, taking into account the type of terrain and speed conditions – ensuring that the vehicle travels with optimum efficiency.

With no official name yet for the device, the test unit is currently undergoing final road trials. The official launch of the product is expected to take place next year.