Trucking groups again call for repeal of truck excise tax

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023:

Trucking groups again seek excise-tax repeal

A group of transportation and trucking stakeholders on Wednesday called on Congress to repeal the Federal Excise Tax (FET) on heavy-duty commercial vehicles -- a century-old tax that adds 12% to the cost of a new truck at the first point of retail sale.

In a letter jointly penned by the American Trucking Associations, American Truck Dealers, and the so-called Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA, established with a 100% electric-vehicles goal by 2030) and sent to Congressional leadership, the groups claim the tax is impeding adoption of new, low emission power units. Established in 1917 to defray the costs of World War I, the FET, the groups said, effectively disincentivizes such purchases. 

“The federal government wants heavy-duty trucks to be cleaner or emission free, but slaps a 12% tax on the newest, greenest trucks," said Scott McCandless, ATD Chairman and President of McCandless Truck Center of Aurora, Colorado. "If the goal is to reduce emissions, repealing the counterproductive FET is a good place to start.”  

ATA President and CEO Chris Spear agreed, adding that if Congress is serious about safety, the environment and jobs, "then repealing the FET should be front-burner."

U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), last year, along with Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) introduced the Modern, Clean, and Safe Trucks Act (H.R. 8116/S. 2435), bipartisan and bicameral legislation to repeal the tax, but it never progressed through the chambers. 

similar Senate bill was introduced a year earlier by Sens. Young and Cardin, but it never advanced past the Committee on Finance. Various bills to repeal the FET on trucks have been introduced each year since at least 2017. 

Medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for 24% of all transportation carbon emissions in the U.S., but represent only 4% of vehicles on the road, and the FET might add as much as $20,000 to the cost of a new lower-emission diesel tractor, as much as $50,000 to some of what's on the market today in the battery-electric space. ZETA Executive Director Albert Gore said the FET harms fleet operators by inflating the cost of trucks and limiting access to the many economic and public health benefits that come with transportation electrification.

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"It is time to accelerate our movement towards modernized transportation fleets, and we must enable our nation's fleet operators and truckers to join in this effort," he said. 

[Related: Will battery-electric trucks end up a 'black eye' on environmental benefits?] spot market update February 23, 2023Spot market -- demand falls, rates level in the last week | The weekly spot-market snapshot from Transportation Intelligence showed overall weakening demand but level rates over the last week. Dig deeper, though, looking at rates by segment, it's clear dry and refrigerated van rates are lagging. Broker-posted rates declined for both segments last week, marking the sixth decrease in the past seven weeks for both segments. Over the past two weeks, dry van and refrigerated have posted notably weaker spot rates than their five-year averages. Dry van spot rates lagged the average for several weeks in November, but otherwise neither segment had seen rates significantly below average since early in the recovery from lockdowns in the spring of 2020. Spot flatbed posted rates rose last week, conversely, and remained 9% above the five-year average. Flatbed load posts, though, declined about 2% for the first week-over-week decrease this year. Load activity was up in the Midwest and West Coast regions but down elsewhere.Find more data/commentary in the weekly update.

Former safety manager sentenced for conspiracy in illegal tank repair scheme

Donald Cameron Spicer, former safety manager for National Distribution Services, Inc. (NDSI), was sentenced this month to three years of probation, a $10,000 fine, 1,000 hours of community service, and a $100 special assessment for his role in a scheme to conduct illegal repairs on cargo tanks.

According to the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General, in August 2021 Spicer pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with the scheme. NDSI operated as a cargo tank repair company contracted to repair hazardous material tankers. However, OIG said, the company was not registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct such repairs. In conducting business, NDSI caused the death of one tank repair employee and the serious injury of another.

Carl Bradley Johansson, owner of NDSI, was sentenced for the scheme in November 2022 to 10 years in prison. Johansson was also sentenced for tax evasion and fraudulently obtaining approximately $954,417 in COVID-relief money while free on bond in the tanker explosion case, and was ordered to pay $1,252,979 in restitution to two banks and the IRS.

[Related: More freight fraud inbound? Pessimistic rates outlook sets the stage]

SAF-Holland air disc brake now available on International LT, RH models

SAF Holland Haldex ModulT DBT22LD air disc brakeSAF-Holland's Haldex ModulT DBT22LD air disc brake will soon be available as an option on International LT and RH models.SAF-Holland, a global manufacturer of heavy-duty commercial vehicle components, announced that Navistar will make the Haldex ModulT DBT22LD air disc brake an option on International LT and RH series trucks, effective in April. The DBT22LD is new to the ModulT product family and is optimized for North American tractors, the company said.

The DBT22LD offers more uptime and a lower operating cost with a simple and effective design, SAF-Holland said. Two key features are the large-diameter, single-piston, and lube-free slide pins. The brake package also features the premium Haldex LifeSeal+ double diaphragm spring brake chamber, which has a fully sealed spring brake housing to extend the product's life.

"We are very excited to grow our long-term partnership with Navistar," said Matt Resch, SAF-Holland's vice president for OEM power sales . "The ModulT DBT22LD and the LifeSeal+ brake package will be a great start to this growth.”

[Related: Stay ahead of the inspectors with maintenance topics in Overdrive