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When we talk about fuel economy we often focus on diesel-powered vehicles.
That makes sense given that the vast majority of vehicles used today in commercial applications are powered by diesel fuel.
However, when it comes right down to it, fuel of all types is an operating cost. While the size of that operating cost may vary based on the type of fuel, what powers the vehicle still represents a significant cost to a fleet.
With electric trucks, hybrid trucks or other alternate energy sources, range rather than miles per gallon may be the defining metric.
For example, a 20% improvement in fuel economy may save a fleet 20% on its diesel fuel bill but it also might get them 20% more range with a battery electric vehicle. For each fuel type, fleets need to determine what metric to measure and how to determine how to measure improvement.
Fleets that want to move into alternative fuel vehicles need to begin working on making their trailers more efficient as well given the longevity of trailers in more fleets. Making trailers efficient now will prevent the fleet from being handicapped when they make the move to electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, etc.
Another reason to be concerned about fuel use is that sustainability is becoming a large factor in shippers’ decisions about which carriers to partner with. More shippers are asking carriers what they are doing to operate their trucks more efficiently.
Being able to highlight fuel saving measures can improve a fleet’s chance of gaining — or keeping — business. Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives are growing and are playing a larger role in corporate decision making.
The bottom line is that regardless of what is powering a vehicle, the goal should be to make sure the truck uses that power most efficiently.
I believe that for the foreseeable future, fuel economy will continue to be important especially as we are the midst of record high fuel prices.