New Engine Technology in Used Trucks: A $mart Choice

Engine Technology, Fleet Management, Fuel Services, Safety & Environment, Vehicle Sales
July 2, 2015

Engine TechnologyAs clean engine technology has rolled out—first as government policy, then as new OEM equipment—it has sometimes appeared like the Big Bad Wolf to the trucking industry. Why? Because, many times, newer “greener” engines can come with higher sticker prices, which turns off many buyers. However, five years have passed since the first green-compliant trucks rolled off assembly lines, and we now know a Bigger Truth about greener engines: the advantages for those looking to buy used trucks could fill a book. Rather than doing that, let’s focus on the biggest advantage: fuel economy.

Far and away, the biggest benefit of newer technology has been their impact on fuel economy. The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) recently released a major study looking at the impact of newer engines on fleet financials—and it’s striking. According to NACFE, adoption of new truck technologies:

  • Saved the 14 major U.S. for-hire carriers nearly a half billion dollars in the last year alone, an average of $9,000 saved per year on each truck.
  • Cut the estimated payback period for each vehicle by two-and-a-half-years.
  • Slashed carbon emissions fell by 19%.

The new technologies studied included not just emissions controls, but several others such as: idle-reduction, automated manual transmissions and diesel auxiliary power units; engine powertrain optimization; and aerodynamics.

In its 2015 Annual Fleet Fuel Study, NACFE concluded, “Investment in proven technologies and practices that allow a truck or fleet to increase its fuel efficiency—meaning that they let the fleet do the same amount of business while spending less on fuel—is a hugely promising option for the industry in light of these trends.”

The bottom line for those in the used truck market: Fleets can now experience the savings of cleaner, more fuel-efficient engines without having to pony-up for the latest model trucks. That’s a huge advantage.

Even so, some will say, “So what? Fuel prices have fallen. I’m not worried about fuel efficiency right now.” Well, you should be.

In its recent article, “Feeling Fuelish: Don’t Abandon Fuel Economy Efforts Just Because Diesel’s Down”, took note of global volatility in everything from politics to crude oil supply to economics—and concluded that you’d be foolish to abandon a focus on fuel efficiency.

Their outlook: “All evidence points to more wild swings in fuel prices with an inexorable overall trend toward consistently higher prices at the pump. Fleets (and consumers) who stay the current course on enhancing fuel economy in their operations and daily life will be in much better shape to weather the storm once gasoline and diesel start trending upward again.”

And here’s good news for those who want to keep the necessary eye of fuel efficiency: today, more and more EPA-compliant vehicles from the important 2007-2010 period are now appearing on the used truck market. That means fleets and owner-operators have more used truck options than ever to take advantage of the powerful double-dip savings we’ve covered:

  1. Fuel savings
  2. And the resulting ability to pay off the vehicle faster

The evidence is now clear: the suite of “green” truck tech is good for the environment—and good for the bottom line.


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