Truckers Slammed by High Fuel Costs
Truckers recoup some of their costs with fuel
surcharges, which are passed on to consumers. But surcharges only cover
part of the trip. Many trucks return empty and operators are eating the
fuel costs. “Most of our trucks are averaging 5 or 6 miles per gallon.
There’s not much more they can do to change that,” Paul said. “They’re
slowing down when they can, and not idling their engines as much as
before, but that’s about all they can do. A couple of our guys have
steady routes to Maine and one to Florida.
They’re paying $3,000 a week just for fuel. It’s mind-boggling how much it costs.” Skyrocketing costs contributed to 935 trucking companies filing for bankruptcy in the first quarter of this year, the highest number since the record levels of 2000 and 2001, according to investment firm Avondale Partners LLC. More troubling, the average size of a failed company has increased to 45 trucks this year, up from 20 to 35 trucks in 2000-2001.
Meanwhile, the technical innovations that improve gas mileage for the rest of us remain out of reach for truckers, and likely will for some time. “I hear talk of various innovations—compressed air, bio-fuels, hydrogen fuel cells—but those are way off in the future,” said Norita Taylor, media affairs coordinator for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, an industry trade group. For now, she says, truckers can only pass on added costs to the rest of us.
But the benefits are limited to municipal fleets, utility companies and short-haul delivery—situations that involve much starting, stopping and idling. Kenworth estimates fuel savings of 30%.
Wisconsin Kenworth will demonstrate its new hybrid medium-duty truck on Aug. 26 at 9350 S. 22nd St. in Oak Creek. Call 761-5959 for more information.
Definition of the Week
economic cost of buying something is not just the price you pay.
Finding what you want and ensuring that it is competitively priced can
be expensive. But making a purchasing decision without all the relevant
information can result in inefficiency.