Trailer Lightweighting

Project output

  1. Demonstrated a new lightweight deck which allows for increased payload for weight limited operation.
  2. Identified which operations could benefit from lightweighting.


  1. Double deck trailers in grocery haulage and ‘walking-floor’ trailers in bulk haulage are two operations that can benefit significantly from lightweighting.
  2. A weight saving of 1,000 – 2,000 kg can be achieved on a 13.6 m single deck box trailer through a combination of lightweighting measures:
ComponentWeight Saving (kg)
Optimised chassis beams200 – 900
Lightweight sandwich sidewalls300 – 500
Lightweight sandwich deck100 – 200
Glass fibre running gear250
Carbon fibre wheels150
TOTAL1,000 – 2,000

% fuel saving

A weight saving of 1,000 – 2,000 kg would allow an additional 3 – 6 roll cages to be carried.

Each additional roll cage corresponds to a 1.5% improvement in fuel consumption for a 13.6 m single deck trailer.

% CO2e Saving

% Carbon saving is equal to the fuel saving.

Cost of implementation

Raw material cost of a lightweight deck is approx. two times greater than for standard hardwood deck.

Implementation strategy

  • Applying lightweight composite materials to trailer subcomponents such as decking and side walls can be implemented in short time frames for a minimal increase in cost.
  • For a long-term solution, more radical changes will be needed to drastically reduce empty trailer weight.
  • Holistic lightweight composite trailers will become increasingly viable as greater emphasis is placed on energy consumption of the road freight industry.


  1. Galos, J. (2014). Design of a Lightweight Road Freight Semi-Trailer. European Transport Conference. Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, 29 September
  2. Galos, J., et al. (2014), ‘Reducing the Energy Consumption of Heavy Goods Vehicles through the Application of Lightweight Trailers: Fleet Case Studies.’ sub to Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.
  3. Galos, J., et al. (2014). Design of a Lightweight Heavy Goods Vehicle Trailer. Proceedings of European Transport Conference