APU financial incentives

Todd Dills | September 01, 2010

Don’t endure another winter without idle-reduction equipment when there’s money to help you.


Sams Trucking LLC of New Tazewell, Tenn., paid Knoxville Thermo King close to $10,000 for each of four TriPac APUs this summer to outfit part of its five-truck over-the-road fleet with idle-reduction technology. The bill was offset, though, by Tennessee’s “Idle Smart” rebate program, which offers state-based owner-operators and fleets rebates of up to 50 percent of the cost. Sams Trucking received $4,000 back for each of the four TriPacs.


Billy Sams was able to cash in on hefty rebates from a Tennessee program that covered almost half the cost of this and three other TriPac auxiliary power units now part of his small fleet.

Nancy Sams, whose husband, Billy, drives a custom 300-inch 2001 Peterbilt 379 in their fleet, says they had their sights on the TriPacs regardless of the rebate program. However, the “free money” helped them decide to take the plunge. “That’s a lot of money to spend at one time,” she says.

Nancy reports their drivers “just love them. My husband said that if he had known it was going to be as nice as it is, he’d have put one on a long time ago.”

A fully functional auxiliary power unit run by a diesel-fired engine, with the ability to both cool and heat the cab as well as power in-cab electronics and other devices, according to the Overdrive Partners in Business manual, costs $6,000 to more than $11,000 installed. Battery-powered devices with similar functionality can come in between $4,000 and $11,000. Cab heaters can be had for $2,000 or less. Evaporative coolers (also referred to as “swamp coolers”) can be equally inexpensive if you’re cooling needs are occasional.

APU payback scenarios in the Partners in Business manual show most devices can return the investment through fuel savings and reduced maintenance (less wear and tear on the engine) in fewer than three years for the most expensive devices.

A rebate or grant reduces the payback time further. In addition to the loan/grant/rebate programs listed below, many states have Small Business Assistance programs that include low-interest financing for pollution-reducing equipment of all types, not just APUs.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (ooida.com, (816) 229-5791) has an APU- and cab heater-financing program for members. Leased operators may find their fleets offer similar incentives, and APU manufacturers such as Cummins and Thermo King, among others, often provide affordable financing programs.


SmartWay Transport Partnership: grants, low-interest loans

This public-private collaboration aimed at increasing transportation efficiency is led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which disperses federal money to many state-run programs. The partnership’s main site is a good resource for information about grants and low-interest loans.

At the SmartWay Finance Center website (www.SmartWayFinanceCenter.com), you can fill out a single application for loan or lease funding for a SmartWay-certified APU that will go to all participating private lenders and lease companies.

www.epa.gov/smartway, (734) 214-4767


Cascade Sierra Solutions: loans, rebates

Oregon-headquartered Cascade Sierra Solutions began with a focus on providing owner-operators in Washington, Oregon and California (or operating along the I-5 corridor) with information about idle-reduction and other efficiency-boosting technologies. From the CSS website, or working with a representative at one of its four locations at truck stops along I-5, you can apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration loan or obtain information on regional programs.

CSS is launching a 20 percent rebate program for owner-operators nationwide who purchase shorepower-capable APUs under the Shorepower Truckstop Electrification Project. You can become a CSS fleet member for $25 a year. The membership fee “helps pay for our communications network and for our people to keep getting out there and finding these grants,” says CEO Sharon Banks.

  • Albert Paul Wimberley Jr.

    Would like to find out more about financial aid, with apu unit for my lease purchase commercial truck? thx

  • http://overdriveonline.com/channel19 Todd Dills

    Albert, depending on what state you’re in, opportunities will vary. A lot of the big federally funded programs that were ongoing when this story appeared have fallen by the wayside with expiration of federal funding. That said, your state (typically via the environmental service department) may still have a program of incentives. Being in touch with them directly is probably your best bet to finding current information. What state are you in?