“Low cost” trucks, meaning those priced 15% to 20% lower than standard trucks in the same class, are fast becoming a popular choice for some carriers. The purchase price of vehicles has been climbing quickly in recent years, due in part to new safety and environmental regulations. According to a recent study by global consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, over the next seven years, demand for low cost trucks will rise. While safer and environmentally friendly trucks are a positive evolution of current vehicles, the improved machines cost more and fleets are challenged to cut costs in other areas of their operation to afford the new units.
The discount alternatives follow the regulations but cut corners in other places, such as driver comfort and mechanical longevity as they include smaller engines, powertrains, and none of the interior comforts required by long-haul drivers. As a result, low-cost trucks are unlikely to touch the long-haul market any time soon. But for last mile and local delivery work, vehicles without the interior and mechanical upgrades look increasingly attractive.
The budget problems that modern trucks cause are quite real, but there are solutions that do not involve buying substandard equipment.
Telematics providers, such as Teletrac, give fleet managers tools to help dramatically lower operating costs, such as Safety Analytics to improve driver training and coaching, and maintenance reports that catch unseen service repairs to prevent costly break-downs on the road.
Proactively monitoring vehicle activity can give a fleet manager deep insight into their driver’s behavior. Well trained drivers, who obey speed limits, avoid excessive idling and excessive acceleration, harsh braking, and otherwise practice safe driving, reduce the risk of receiving road violations and fines, and experience fewer accidents. As a result, insurance companies are willing to give fleets that incorporate telematics lower premiums and discounts.
When a business has customers waiting for service, Teletrac’s maintenance feature allows managers to keep track of routine maintenance schedules for their entire fleet to ensure vehicles are in top form, and deliveries are made on time. Managers can also read any fault codes remotely with the vehicle diagnostic report feature so that they can make arrangements for repairs before the vehicle breaks down on the road. Overall, the manager has a more efficient tool to plan ahead so that if a truck ends up in the shop, it is less likely to disrupt fleet operations. Simple problems are more likely to be caught early, reducing maintenance costs and improving engine function to use less fuel.
And less fuel burned means less greenhouse gas emissions.
The purpose of the new Federal regulations is to reduce the carbon footprint of America’s trucking industry and increase safety on our roads. Skilled, careful drivers help make our roads safe and reduce fuel use, thus cutting operating costs and a fleet’s carbon footprint. By incorporating a telematics solution, fleet owners can stay compliant and reduce costs, whether or not they purchase low cost trucks.