In NACFE39s latest study of fuel efficiency participating fleets saw less of a collective yearoveryear mpg gain from the technologies included on their trucks but it nonetheless amounted to considerable pertruck savings mdash even with a low cost of fuel Photo NACFE

Are you ready for diesel's rising price?

Fleets need to constantly look at improving their fuel efficiency because you never know when fuel prices are going to spike upward.

It looks like diesel prices are going up again. I just saw a report that the average price of diesel is now $3 a gallon. Yeah, yeah, I know that is still a far cry from the $4-plus a gallon we saw not too many years ago. But $3 is still higher than it’s been.

And from the US Energy Information Administration, US crude oil production exceeded 10 million barrels per day in November 2017, just shy of the record, which occurred in October 1970. Yes, nearly 50 years ago. I am no expert on fuel costs and all the associated dynamics, but I found these two figures quite interesting.

Seeing diesel prices rise, gives me the opportunity to resurrect an old sermon of mine. That is that fleets need to constantly be looking at improving their fuel efficiency because we never know when fuel prices are going to spike upward.

If you wait until fuel prices climb to invest in fuel efficiency technologies, you will be at a competitive disadvantage over fleets that have been investing regardless of fuel prices. This reminds me of an old axiom: “When is the best day to plant a tree? Well, 20 years ago, would have provided a great tree for shade and enjoyment. But if we didn’t, the best day is today!”

No matter how good a technology is there is always some learning curve for drivers and/or technicians that can result in productivity losses. It is best to iron out all the bugs and get everyone comfortable with the technology while fuel prices are low so there will be less real impact to your bottom line.

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t tell you whether diesel fuel prices will continue to climb or not. I can tell you that historically fuel prices have been volatile and that regardless of price fuel costs are still a fleet’s No. 1 or No. 2 expense. So, start investigating, testing and adopting some of the 85 or so technologies that are available. You’ll likely wish you did.

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