Industry news

| December 12, 2008

Representatives from two major truckload carriers voiced concern about the increased costs surrounding the lower-emissions ’07 engines during a panel discussion at the American Trucking Associations annual meeting in Boston.

“We think we’ll see an additional $18,000 [in operating costs] with this new engine,” said Christopher Lofgren, Schneider National’s president and CEO. That’s on top of the $15,000 in additional operating costs for the ’02 low-emissions engines, compared to previous models. Lofgren adds, “To give ourselves some room, we are buying more tractors than we traditionally would.”

With the ’02 engines, Contract Freighters saw a 7 percent to 8 percent increase in the cost of the truck, $10,000 additional annual fuel costs per truck, and shorter service intervals, said Glen Brown, chairman and CEO. “The jury is still out on durability,” he said. CF held off purchasing ’02 engines until May 2004. “We wanted to change them out before ’07,” he said. “We plan to have the transition complete by the end of 2006.”

Issues for ’07 include the diesel particulate filters needed to reduce particulates to required levels. The filters will need to be cleaned every 150,000 miles at a cost of $75 to $150, panelists said.

Cummins General Manager Ed Pence assured attendees that beyond the DPF, maintenance intervals on the ’07 engines would not change and that performance would be “comparable to today’s products. We’re well ahead of where we were with ’02 engines.”

Another issue: Beginning in 2006, all trucks will run on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, which will cost 3 cents to 7 cents more to produce, said Jim McGeehan, global manager of diesel engine technology for Chevron, although the retail margin will be market-driven, he said.

Because low-sulfur diesel has less energy content, fuel economy dropped by about 2 percent in test engines run by Schneider, Lofgren said.

“Our biggest concern is the fuel,” said Kevin Knight of Knight Transportation. “It makes the introduction of the ’07 engines secondary, because we’re going to have to run the fuel no matter what.”

A TRUCKERS’ BALL will be held Feb. 18 at the Antique Automobile Museum in Hershey, Pa. Proceeds will benefit the Teddy Bear Fund, which helps trucking families in financial crisis. Visit this site.

TINO REYES of Breckenridge, Texas, an owner-operator leased to Fikes Truck Lines, won a flatbed trailer in Fikes’ annual recruiting contest.

NATIONAL TRUCK DRIVER OF THE YEAR, named by the American Trucking Associations, is Central Freight Lines driver Larry Springer of Holland, Texas, who has more than 4 million
accident-free miles in his 32-year career.

PUBLIC CITIZEN, the Teamsters and other groups filed a petition Sept. 23 asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider the new hours rule. This did not constitute the legal challenge to the rule that many expected, though such an action could soon come.

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