Study Shares Adoption Rates of Efficiency Technologies
A deep-dive investigation into the adoption of various products and practices for improving freight efficiency with major North American fleets.
Fuel Economy Overview
No one knows for sure what the price of fuel will be in the future, but fleets should conduct sensitivity analyses with respect to fuel prices and expectations about the ownership life of their assets. Regardless of the cost of fuel, it is a very significant operating expense for fleets and needs to be managed.
Price of Fuel
The fuel costs faced by the trucking industry are a significant part of the expense to operate a tractor-trailer in North America. According to the 2021 American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) report on the Operating Costs of Trucking, fuel has been as high as $0.65 per mile driven occurring in 2013 and then dropped to $0.34 and $0.31 by 2016 and 2020, respectively.
But throughout 2021, the price per gallon for diesel skyrocketed to an all-time high of $5.81 on June 20, 2022. For a point of reference, using a cost of even $5.00 per gallon and 7 MPG driven over an annual amount of 100,000 miles, the cost to fuel one tractor-trailer for a year would be more than $70,000. A new tractor might cost $150,000, so that tractor will spend in fuel the complete cost of the tractor in its first two years of use.
Fuel Cost and Adoption
Investment in proven technologies and practices that allow a truck or fleet to increase its fuel efficiency — meaning that it lets the fleet do the same amount of business while spending less on fuel — is a hugely important option for the industry considering the trends of fuel price volatility, global geopolitical events, and governmental mandates for lower emissions and increased fuel efficiency.
Myriad technologies that can cost-effectively improve the fuel efficiency of Class 8 trucks are readily available on the market today.
Since 2010 with the introduction of SCR engines, the truck OEMs have been able to make every successive model year truck more efficient than the one preceding it. This decade plus of compounding gains in efficiency combined with increased adoption of fuel-saving technologies has saved the industry enormous amounts of fuel and put MPGs once considered to be in SuperTruck territory within reach of regular production level vehicles. New tractors coming off the production line are achieving higher MPGs than older trucks, but that efficiency can still be improved with the adoption of other technologies and practices.
The national average of all US Class 8 tractor-trailers was at 6.24 MPG in 2020, however, fleets in the AFFS achieved a fleet-wide fuel economy of 7.23. MPG. The Department of Energy SuperTruck 1 trucks saw fuel economy ranging from 10 to 12.5 MPG. Trucks in NACFE’s Run on Less 2017 achieved 8.5 to 11.5 MPG, while the Run on Less 2019 Regional results were 6.5 to 9.6.
The NACFE AFFS latest model year truck range from 7.2 to 9.5 MPG in 2021.
There continues to be a multitude of developments underway that are sure to continue the performance increases in efficiency of these trucks.
Annual Fleet Fuel Study Reports
From 2012 to 2019 — with a three-year pause for COVID — NACFE has published its Annual Fleet Fuel Study. The study analyzes the adoption of fuel efficiency technologies being used by major North American fleets. The report includes adoption curves for the various technologies and practices fleets are investing in. This report is an important tool for any fleet looking to improve its freight efficiency. Each report has unique takeaways that fleets can leverage to make the right decisions about which technologies and practices are right for them.