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Trucks at Work

Big rigs, big costs

Everyone in trucking today knows it costs big bucks not only to acquire big rigs but to keep them running as well – something that’s been discussed in this space more than a time or two.

To help provide some further clarity on this subject, moving giant Atlas Van Lines recently pulled together an infographic to illustrate some of their findings with regards to the cost of operating tractor-trailers these days, which you can see on the right.

A few of the more eye-opening data points include:

  • Filling a big rig's gas tank is equivalent to filling 18 mid-size cars.
  • Long haul drivers average 100,000-110,000 miles per year.
  • The cost of running one big rig could be more than $185,000 per year.
  • Two-thirds of the costs are vehicle based, while the other third is driver-based.

Sandeep Kar, global director of research, automotive and transportation for consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, is another noted expert I’ve talked to many times about how new truck sticker prices are affecting total cost or operation or TCO calculations for fleets – an issue you can read more about here.

(You can also get his take on overall global truck sales trends here.)

It’s no surprise, either, that the cost of trucking is high these days in part because the average cost of a new tractor-trailer is now estimated to range between $140,000 and $175,000, according to data analyzed by Frost & Sullivan – anywhere from $110,000 to $125,000 for a new tractor and $30,000 to $50,000 for a new trailer.

And, frankly, the industry is still facing an upward climb where operating costs are concerned in terms of dealing with the fiscal fallout generated by regulatory initiatives and the need to pay drivers more money, just for starters.

So even though fuel prices are expected to remain low at least in the near-term, that’s not necessarily going to help alleviate all of those other rising costs – especially where driver wages are concerned.

It’s a lot for trucking to deal with, no doubt, and all just to move goods and perform services to keep the U.S. economy humming. Would that John Q. Public only appreciate that effort just a wee bit more at least.


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