The Time Is Now

Oct. 10, 2014

Truck tonnage accelerated again in August and is up year-over-year from this time last year. Add to that the existing constraints on capacity and it’s obvious why there’s been a need for more trucks on the road.

The good news is that fleets are responding. According to ACT Research, September North American Class 8 net truck orders were up 21% from a year ago. Over the past 12 months the cumulative order volume represents the strongest 12-month period for North American Class 5-8 truck orders sine the 12 months ending November 2005, ACT Research says. In addition, order for new trailers climbed 56.9% in August.

And in the long term, the American Trucking Associations in collaboration with HIS Global Insight predicted freight tonnage to grow 23.5% between 2013 and 2025 and that trucking’s share of that tonnage will grow from 69.1% in 2013 to 71.4% in 2025.

So what does this mean for those of us committed to improving trucking efficiency?  Trucks built in 2006, a year of significant activity, were probably averaging about 6 mpg. Today a truck can be spec’d to get 7.5+ mpg. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much to you, but that can translate into $15,000 in fuel per year or $75,000 over a five-year period. Multiple that times the 1.5 million trucks on the road, and you get a pretty big number.

Trucking Efficiency’s Bob Weimer attended the recent ACT Research Seminar the week of September 22nd, and based on what he heard there, a lot of equipment will be purchased and built over the next several years — the tractor build forecast is 312,000 in 2015, 292,000 in 2016 and 257,000 in 2017 — Given these large production numbers, it strikes me how critical our work really is NOW!

There is a host of technology solutions you can spec on any new truck you purchase that will drive your fuel efficiency up. It can run the gamut from aerodynamic devices on your tractor and/or trailer, to systems that monitor tire pressure to devices that reduce the amount of time a truck spends idling to downsizing the engine to using engine parameters correctly and more.

Sure these solutions require an investment but the payback in increased efficiency more than offsets the investment.

We’ve already studied some of these efficiency solutions in-depth ( and developed Payback Calculators to help you make smart purchasing decisions. And we are studying others so that we can bring you real-world information on how they are performing.

It takes all of us in the industry to bring about these efficiency gains through developing products, integrating them onto the tractors and trailers, learning now to sell and service them and yes, for the fleets to buy them.  With all that new equipment being bought, the time is NOW, to make all of this happen.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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