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Miles per gallon fuel efficiency standard

Why aren't more trucks getting 10 MPG?

While some fleets are achieving more miles per gallon these days, the average MPG for studied fleets was at 7.28, which is better than the national fleet average of 5.91 MPG.

Two years ago seven drivers demonstrated that they could average 10.1 MPG over the course of a three-week period. This all took place during our Run on Less fuel economy demonstration. It is important to point out once again that these were real trucks with real freight delivered in a real-world environment, which happened to include two hurricanes.

If you look at the Facebook page for the 9+ MPG Club you will see that drivers routinely post trips of 10+ MPG and some have already achieved or are working on achieving lifetime averages of 10 MPG.

All of this is great news, but it begs the question why aren’t more trucks operating at the 10-MPG level on a regular basis?  Even in our own Fleet Fuel Study, the average MPG for the studied fleets was at 7.28, which is still better than the national fleet average of 5.91 MPG.

It’s important to remember that we are talking about average numbers and average expresses “the center of typical value in a set of data.” In other words, average is the midpoint.

That being said, there are probably a number of reasons why all fleets are not getting to that 10-MPG number. Some of it has to do with the age of the equipment in a particular fleet. Older trucks tend to be less fuel efficient than newer ones that benefit from the latest technological developments.

Some of it has to do with duty cycle and operating environment. Trucks hauling heavy loads in the mountains are probably not going to be able to hit the 10-MPG mark.

For some fleets it is a matter of not knowing which of the myriad fuel-saving technologies and practices — we’ve identified 85 — make sense for them. Our Confidence Reports are a good place for fleets to go to get unbiased information on the technologies they are considering. And we also are available to consult with fleets as well.

Other fleets say it is a money issue. The price tag on some of the technology can seem high, but it needs to be looked at from a total cost of operation standpoint rather than an initial capital outlay standpoint. But I know sometimes that is a hard argument to make to the folks in charge of finance because actual money has to be found in the budget to pay for these technologies while the benefits are realized over time.

For fleets were money is the issue, there are some things that can be done that cost little to nothing. That includes optimizing engine parameter settings and training drivers in driving in a more fuel-efficient manner.

I am not discouraged that we don’t have all fleets at the 10-MPG level because I see progress being made every day and even if the progress is incremental we are moving in the right direction. Plus if my travel schedule and that of several other NACFE staff members is any indication there are a whole lot more people out there who want to hear what we have to say about improving fuel efficiency and that can only mean one thing: 10 MPG is in our sights for almost all trucks.

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