IdleAire has announced that it would be “restarting” services at about two dozen truckstops, including some Pilot, Flying J, Travel Centers of America as well as other locations. Details are not available, not even about the new investors who are rumored to be breathing life back into the company.
In February, IdleAire Acquisition Co., LLC (formerly IdleAireTechnologies Corp.) closed its doors after a long period of financial adversity. According to sources inside and outside the company, the shutdown resulted in some 315 layoffs. The Knoxville-based business, said it decided to cease operations when it couldn't find a buyer for its assets.
At the end, IdleAire had 131 locations in 34 states. It provided filtered heating and a/c, electrical outlets and a range of communications and entertainment options that enabled long-haul truck drivers to shut down their engines instead of idling them to power cab-comfort features during daily rest periods. Over 150,000 professional drivers and more than 1,000 fleets were actively using IdleAire services, according to the company.
"The company had made great strides toward profitability in the midst of a very challenging operating environment," the current IdleAire owners were quoted as saying in a report that ran in the Knoxville Sentinel. "We believe IdleAire had strong growth potential and was well positioned to capitalize on the recovering economy. We are very disappointed that the company is forced to cease operations at this juncture."
“There was just no way that the IdleAire systems could be everywhere they were needed,” physicist Dr. Linda Gaines, of Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Transportation Research, Energy Systems Division told Fleet Owner when the closure was announced in February. “But having a dual-capable system that allows drivers to plug in and avoid diesel fuel use if there's a handy AC source makes sense.”
Those simpler, dual-capable systems are already becoming available. Back in August of last year, for example, the nonprofit Cascade Sierra Solutions (CSS) was awarded a $22.2-million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to advance truck stop electrification. CSS announced that it would partner with ShorePower Technologies to install Shorepower Truck Electrified Parking Space (STEPS) systems for diesel trucks at 50 truck stops in the U.S. Developments like this may mean that IdleAire will find the idling alternatives market significantly changed since its brief absence from the field.