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Leasing makes sense for alternative-fueled trucks

Feb. 20, 2023
As trucking moves into a poly-fuel environment, it makes sense to have lessors help with the transition by aiding with the selection process and dealing with any maintenance headaches for new technologies.

It seems fairly evident that during the next decade or so, we will be operating in a poly-fuel environment when it comes to powertrains for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. As we are making our way to a cleaner freight future, fleets are going to be choosing a variety of ways to power their trucks as currently, other than diesel, there is no one powertrain that will work in every application.

While we are seeing rapid developments in some of these new technologies—especially battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell tech—there is a great deal we do not know about them. For example, no one is sure what the initial purchase price or maintenance costs will be, nor what these assets will be worth on the used truck market.

All of these factors combine to make a strong case for leasing rather than purchasing an asset.

See also: Moving into a cleaner transportation future

Why full-service leasing makes sense for alternative-fueled commercial vehicles

  • Selection assistance: Your lessor can help you determine which of the myriad of powertrain options are right for you. The truth is you may end up having vehicles with several types of fuel powering them in order to meet the unique duty cycles your fleet operates in. Once you’ve determined which fuel sources make sense, you can leverage the buying power of the lessor to achieve a lower cost for the vehicle, which means lower lease payments for you. Another plus is that at the end of the lease, the lessor is responsible for remarketing the asset. This is a big plus given that there is not enough history on what electric or hydrogen fuel cell trucks will be worth come trade-in time.
  • Budget predictability: As with leasing a diesel vehicle, when you finance an alternative-fueled vehicle, you have a set monthly payment that allows for better budgeting. Over the term of the lease—which can vary based on your needs—you know what that asset will cost to operate each month. Leasing also allows you to preserve capital for other projects within your organization.
  • No service headaches: With a full-service lease, the lessor takes on the responsibility for servicing the asset.  This includes handing preventive maintenance, emergency roadside service, tire repairs, towing, etc. While we are hearing that battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will need less maintenance, no one know how much less, nor have there been any discussions on the cost of servicing these new powertrains.

Full-service leasing has made sense for many fleets operating diesel-powered trucks; with alternative-powered trucks coming into the market, it makes even more sense.

Jane Clark is vice president of member services for NationaLease. In this position, she is focused on managing the member services operation as well as working to strengthen member relationships, reduce member costs, and improve collaboration within the NationaLease supporting groups. Prior to joining NationaLease, Clark served as area vice president for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Cos., Pro Staff, and Manpower Inc.

About the Author

Jane Clark | Senior VP of Operations

Jane Clark is Senior Vice President, Operations for NationaLease. Prior to joining NationaLease, Jane served as Area Vice President for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Companies, Pro Staff, and Manpower, Inc.

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