Supply Chain

The Soft Benefits of Truck Fleet Upgrades

While acquiring newer-model trucks produces significant hard savings, several other advantages sweeten the deal considerably.
David McCannJanuary 22, 2020
The Soft Benefits of Truck Fleet Upgrades

The many companies that transport goods, such as food distributors, grocery companies, retailers, and oil-and-gas transporters, can realize significant savings by replacing older, less-efficient trucks that cost more to operate and produce harmful emissions.

According to the most recent truck lifecycle data index from Fleet Advantage, transportation fleet operators can realize first-year, per-truck, hard-cost savings of $16,928 when upgrading from a 2015 sleeper model truck to a 2020 model. For a 100-truck fleet, the savings are nearly $1.7 million.

Greater fuel efficiency and much lower maintenance expenditures account for a large portion of the hard-cost savings from truck fleet upgrades These savings are critically important, given that every corporate fleet operator is tightly focused on its bottom-line “total cost of ownership.”

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However, in addition to these hard-cost savings, there are several “soft” benefits for truck fleet operators that upgrade their fleets with newer equipment.

Newer Trucks Are Safer

Fleet operators today are paying more attention to their trucks’ safety obsolescence, in addition to their economic obsolescence. It’s just as important to replace an older truck for safety benefits as it is for financial reasons.

There have been significant advancements in heavy-duty truck safety systems over the last several years. These include improvements to basic truck components like brakes and tires and such recent technological advancements as stability control and lane departure systems.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), almost half of two-vehicle crashes from 2012 to 2014 were rear-end collisions. Among them, 87% were the result of drivers not paying attention to the traffic ahead. The NTSB found in a 2015 study that collision avoidance systems could have prevented 1,700 fatal rear-end collisions annually.

In a response to that visibility, the proportion of heavy-duty trucks with collision warning systems grew by 28% in 2017 and 39% in 2018. By model year 2018, all major original equipment manufacturers started adding collision avoidance and lane departure systems as standard offerings.

Many of the OEMs require truck buyers to opt out if they don’t want these safety features.

Forward video monitoring, blind stop monitoring, and lane correction steering systems will all eventually become standard OEM offerings as well. 

Drivers Prefer Newer Trucks 

Fleet operators are challenged by a chronic shortage of truck drivers — and drivers, as well as vehicle technicians, want to work with newer trucks that come with advanced technology.

Truck fleet upgrades provide an alternative to expensive sign-on bonuses for companies that need to hire drivers. Newer equipment also can lessen drivers’ motivation to jump to other employers, reducing fleet operators’ training costs.

In a recent International Foodservice Distributors Association webinar, Dot Transportation president Paul Mugerditchian noted that it can cost up to $10,000 to onboard a new driver. 

Customer Service Improves

Truck fleet upgrades also improve customer satisfaction rates through fewer delays and an enhanced corporate image. Drivers will have a better attitude when making deliveries, and there will be less damage to both freight and property. 

Sustainability Is Enhanced

In today’s world, people want to do business with companies that prioritize reducing their carbon footprint and boosting their commitment to sustainability.

Updating a truck fleet improves sustainability in a number of ways. Newer trucks have reduced emissions — for example, upgrading to a 2020 model-year truck from a 2015 unit reduces carbon dioxide by 126 metric tons and nitrogen oxides by 12% per year.

Newer trucks also have lighter components, and they allow longer maintenance intervals, reducing hazmat disposal. And the more often fleets are upgraded, the greater the benefits, as secondary markets receive more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Brian Holland is president and CFO of Fleet Advantage, a provider of truck-fleet business analytics, equipment financing, and lifecycle cost management.

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