Dealers preferred by heavy fleets and those in severe-service applications
The FLEET OWNER Aftermarket Monitor reports that medium- and heavy-duty fleets prefer truck dealers as a source for mufflers, at 37.4% and 40.2%, respectively. Heavy-duty fleets are particularly partial to dealers because they offer OEM parts, which fleets see as providing the reliability needed to minimize downtime and extend replacement intervals. Since in general revenue per truck increases with GVW, downtime is even more costly for fleets running heavy equipment.
Heavy-duty fleets also prefer truck dealers as parts sources because they have locations throughout the country. With an average length of haul of more than 200 miles, many heavy-duty fleets operate away from their primary location. Buying parts from a local supplier is often not an option.
Exhaust specialists are another source of mufflers. While midrange fleets choose them for muffler purchases 22% of the time, medium- and heavy-duty fleets do so much less frequently. For one thing, midrange fleets usually operate locally, making local suppliers a logical choice for parts. In addition, since many owners of midrange trucks have already formed relationships with local parts specialists for their automobiles, they're more likely to go to them for the fleet as well.
Jobbers/parts houses may gain ground as sources of mufflers for midrange vehicles as light trucks and SUVs are built more like midrange units. These suppliers, which serve as the primary source of parts for Class 1-2 vehicles, will start to carry components for the higher-GVW end of their product mix, enabling them to increase market share in consumer and commercial arenas.
Fleet vocation also plays a role in where mufflers are purchased. Heavy-duty, on-highway operators, including for-hire carriers and owner-operators, choose truck dealers about 40% of the time. Those who operate on-highway generally have an average length of haul of over 200 miles, driving them to seek parts sources that provide national coverage.
Those operating in severe-duty applications - construction and mining, for example - prefer exhaust specialists more than on-highway operators do because they operate off-road and locally, allowing them to return to home base every day. National parts coverage is not an issue.
The Aftermarket Monitor divides components into 15 major groups and sends out more than 4,000 questionnaires each month to commercial vehicle operators. Parts categories covered are diesel engines; gas engines; electrical and lights; air brakes, wheel seals and bearings; hydraulic brakes, wheel seals and bearings; manual transmissions and clutches; automatic transmissions; drive axles, universal joints and drivelines, and PTO drives; exhaust components and engine cooling systems; front suspension and shock absorbers; rear suspensions and springs; engine oil and filtration systems; tires; electronics; wheels and fifth wheels; seats, mirrors, tanks, and leak detection equipment; and paint.
For more information on FLEET OWNER's Aftermarket Monitor, call Chris Brady at Martin Labbe Assoc., 904-672-4413.
The following individuals recently received prizes for participating in last month's survey: A.S. Burnett, System Transfer of Longview, Longview, Wash.; Richard Gasser, Clevite Elastomers, Angola, Ind.; and Michael Meyer, City of Watertown, Watertown, Wis.