Some fleet managers long for the days of yesteryear when operating a fleet was so much simpler. There were no engine emission technologies, few (if any) OEM computers , no third party on-board computers to track logistics routing, equipment utilization, fuel economy and other factors. It was a pretty simple world – you purchased a truck, typically ran it six to eight year life, performed preventive maintenance and repaired as best you could and operated the fleet based on intuition, experience and prior practices. The truck purchases were evenly distributed with roughly the same number of trucks being purchased and replaced each year.
Many of the so-called equipment technology advancements started in 2000 due to the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). These environmental regulations called for new technologies like Exhaust Gas Recirculation to be incorporated into 2003 model year trucks. Unfortunately, the unbudgeted costs of the new technologies (in the form of expensive repairs, declining fuel economy and mechanical complexities) wreaked havoc on operating budgets. Amid reports of a second round of EGR technology in 2007, some fleet managers extended their vehicle lifecycle, opting for higher M&R expenses; while others contributed to the largest Class 8 pre-buy in 2006 (approximately 350,000 trucks) in the history of the industry. In addition, the “great recession” hit in 2008/2009 which further disrupted the purchase pattern, lifecycle management and operating costs. Many fleets were told by CFO “no capital for now”, run what you have!
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