Smart marketing

Who doesn't at least weigh a bit more heavily those household appliances-- we're talking refrigerators and other energy hogs here-- adorned with the catchy EnergyStar label before plunking hundreds or thousands down to buy a machine that will consume gobs of electricity right before your eyes for likely years to come?


Well, I do anyway, even if I am never quite sure how much that fancy label will save me! But I am not running a business let alone a fleet of trucks so ROI is not as important as just replacing the worn-out clunker that expired on the kitchen floor before the ice cream melts or the dirty dishes start stacking up.

I have a strong suspicion that the EnergyStar label has been a boon to applicance marketers who, let's face it, don't have a whole lot to distinguish their products with other than handsome price tags.

I don't feel quite the same can be said about heavy-truck OEMS, whose products are still very much distinguished by how they are put together and how they "feel" on the road--helping to make both owners and operators often fiercely loyal to one brand or another.

Nevertheless these manufacturers aren't about to overlook a new means to power up their marketing. That's why it's no surprise to me that the Environmental Protection Agency has begun certifying '07 truck and trailer models as fuel effcient under its SmartWay program.


EPA said that the initial crop of SmartWay trucks-- which includes those made by Freightliner, International, Kenworth, Mack, Peterbilt, and Volvo-- can cut fuel consumption by 10 to 20%. EPA claims it plans to set more ambitious performance targets for SmartWay-recognized tractor-trailer combinations and other vehicles, such as delivery vans, in the future.

Still, I doubt many fleet managers will end up buying their trucks the way the do their household appliances. On the other hand, there is a nifty advantage of the SmartWay truck certification. EPA says truckers who buy this new equipment and are members of the SmartWay program will be able "to proudly display a logo on their qualified big rigs."

That means fleets will be able to get some marketing mileage out of this program-- that SmartWay decal will help tell the world how fuel-efficient and thus environmentally friendly your trucking operation is.