With the recently announced Phase 2 regulations on greenhouse gas and fuel economy, the significant work of manufacturers participating in the Super Trucks programs, efforts such as I saw during a visit last week at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and on and on, I am more excited than ever about improving the efficiency of NA goods movement. But I have been asked if there is still a need for NACFE and Trucking Efficiency.
My answer is a resounding YES! I see our role as helping the industry understand all of the benefits, consequences and best practices of using a particular technology. And the associated total cost of ownership or payback from the investments they make in fuel efficiency technology. Fleets have repeatedly told us they need to see paybacks in an 18 to 24 month time frame to consider making an investment in any technology, while EPA seemed to target 24 months as well when the selected the stringency of the new regulations.
We want fleets to understand the total cost of the technology and all the factors that need to be included in the payback equation. Fuel savings and the upfront cost of the technology are rarely the only numbers to be considered.
Look at electronically controlled transmissions. While conducting research for our Confidence Report on them we learned that fleets clearly see driver attraction and retention as real benefits of these transmission, yet they are reluctant to put a price tag on it and include it in their payback calculations.
On the flip side when we studied 6 x 2 axles we pointed out that you need to factor the increased cost of tires into the payback calculations. If you don’t include the extra costs of tires due to the increased tire wear, moving to 6 x 2 axles will appear to have a shorter payback period than they actually do. And while we are proponents of 6 x 2 axles, we also want fleets to have a realistic view of what they get when they make the switch.
I’ve been in the industry a long time and have been involved in many discussions about greenhouse gas regulations and programs focused on improving fuel efficiency. One thing I am sure of is that we, NACFE and Trucking Efficiency, WILL be part of helping fleets understand payback for existing and emerging technologies to verify the 24-month payback period they seek. And we WILL be here to help manufacturers understand how their products are really performing in the field and assist in their next generation of more robust, lower cost and better performing products.
We’re technology neutral. What we want is to see fleets improve their freight efficiency and continue to be profitable. That’ll be our job for quite some time.