Fleetowner 31625 082217 Nacfe Annual Fuel Study Web 0

Are you ready for diesel's rising price?

Feb. 6, 2018
Fleets need to constantly look at improving their fuel efficiency because you never know when fuel prices are going to spike upward.

It looks like diesel prices are going up again. I just saw a report that the average price of diesel is now $3 a gallon. Yeah, yeah, I know that is still a far cry from the $4-plus a gallon we saw not too many years ago. But $3 is still higher than it’s been.

And from the US Energy Information Administration, US crude oil production exceeded 10 million barrels per day in November 2017, just shy of the record, which occurred in October 1970. Yes, nearly 50 years ago. I am no expert on fuel costs and all the associated dynamics, but I found these two figures quite interesting.

Seeing diesel prices rise, gives me the opportunity to resurrect an old sermon of mine. That is that fleets need to constantly be looking at improving their fuel efficiency because we never know when fuel prices are going to spike upward.

If you wait until fuel prices climb to invest in fuel efficiency technologies, you will be at a competitive disadvantage over fleets that have been investing regardless of fuel prices. This reminds me of an old axiom: “When is the best day to plant a tree? Well, 20 years ago, would have provided a great tree for shade and enjoyment. But if we didn’t, the best day is today!”

No matter how good a technology is there is always some learning curve for drivers and/or technicians that can result in productivity losses. It is best to iron out all the bugs and get everyone comfortable with the technology while fuel prices are low so there will be less real impact to your bottom line.

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t tell you whether diesel fuel prices will continue to climb or not. I can tell you that historically fuel prices have been volatile and that regardless of price fuel costs are still a fleet’s No. 1 or No. 2 expense. So, start investigating, testing and adopting some of the 85 or so technologies that are available. You’ll likely wish you did.

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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