Contradiction in Class 8 Fleet Fuel Economy, Age

by Brian Holland

Brian Holland is president and chief financial officer at Fleet Advantage, a leading innovator in truck fleet business analytics, equipment financing and lifecycle cost management.

In a survey of Class 8 truck fleet managers conducted by Fleet Advantage, 70% of fleet operators reported fuel economy and maintenance costs as the biggest motivators for equipment replacement, but most continue to operate trucks an average of seven years before replacing them with new, more fuel efficient models. Fleet Advantage President Brian Holland asks, “What is driving this contradiction?”

Fleet Advantage conducted an online survey designed to take the pulse of Class 8 truck fleet managers on topics ranging from fuel economy trends to equipment acquisition and disposition, driver retention, maintenance and repair practices, and more.

The survey revealed puzzling outcomes. While 70% of fleet operators reported a consistent increase in fuel economy for truck model years 2011–2015 and fuel economy and maintenance and repair expenses ranked highest as motivating factors for equipment replacement, most continue to operate trucks an average of seven years before replacing them with new, more fuel efficient models.

fleet advantage survey
“Fleet operators realize they can improve fuel economy and lower operating costs with newer equipment since 80% responded that they are aware of federal regulations that require new models to increase their fuel efficiency. Fleet managers also know that maintenance and repair costs on new models are a fraction of the costs of a 4-7 year old truck, yet they continue to operate older less-efficient models. The obvious question is: ‘What is driving this contradiction?’” said Brian Holland, president of Fleet Advantage. “The answer to that question is saving our clients millions of dollars in operating costs annually. Because certain concepts and beliefs are entrenched within every organization, some fleet managers are under the misconception that switching to a 3-4 year lifecycle will increase operating costs. Understanding the difference between a truck’s functional and economic obsolescence alleviates that concern.”

Historically, fleet operators have attempted to spread equipment costs over a longer time period by operating a truck until it becomes functionally obsolete. However, by running shorter equipment lifecycles only to the point of economic obsolescence, fleets are realizing higher cost savings through improved fuel economy, minimal maintenance and repair costs, and improved driver retention. Survey results indicate new equipment is beneficial to retaining drivers.

Fleet Advantage’s philosophy of operating trucks only to the point of economic obsolescence has been gaining understanding and momentum across all markets. Corporate fleets are cutting wasteful spending by millions of dollars annually by being able to predict the optimum transportation lifecycle to achieve continual efficiency improvements, and improving corporate image by running new equipment appointed with cutting edge technologies and the latest safety features.

To view the full Fleet Advantage survey results, click here.

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