Last month I wrote about the fuel mileage that our new trucks are getting, and how we need to promote ourselves better inside and outside of the trucking industry. We have done a good job of improving.
Here’s another part that I find intriguing. Where is the goal? The goal should always be beyond our reach. Then as we get closer to that, keep moving the goal further away.
Ask anyone this question: “Do you have any concern for the environment?”
The answer will almost always be yes, but with limits. For example. If I dump toxic waste in your backyard is that ok? The answer will be no, because you have a concern for the environment.
No one wants that in their yard. What are you willing to do to help your environment? The solution for many people is, ‘Just get it away from me. I don’t want to deal with it. I’m staying clean and helping my environment.’
All of us have some concern for our environment, but not as many are willing to help clean it up if it’s not in their backyard.
Let’s get back to the fuel mileage question. Do you want better fuel economy? Yes, of course. We all want better fuel economy. The harder question is, what will you do to get better fuel economy? Here’s a shocker. Most only want the easy fuel improvements. Or what they feel is easy.
We all have a limit. Here’s another weird thing. If you post on social media about your fuel economy, someone will feel like you’re targeting them.
Or accuse you of trying to use your fuel consumption to lower the rates to get more work. I can’t speak for anyone but me, but I have been interested in fuel economy for 33 years of driving big rigs. Margins have always been tight and with fuel accounting for a huge percentage of costs, it has always been a way to put more money in my pocket.
I was further motivated because I knew there was always a tight time coming and I was going to need that money. Either for my truck, or for my family.
Jamie Hagen, of Hellbent Xpress, told me that even before he had his own authorities, he had other owner-operators upset with him for talking about his fuel economy. They were afraid he was getting more work because he could cut the rates.
Some people don’t think at all. They were all under contract at the same company, same rates. Every penny you save on fuel is another penny in your pocket. If you want to drive a fancy rig that has no aerodynamics, you will have fewer pennies.
I drive a truck right now that is not my own. I got out of my own trucks a few years ago. Yet, I still try to save where I can. My boss spec’d out trucks that are efficient, but still with some class. He had a limit.
He wanted economy but he also knows that his drivers still want some options for power and driveability. Not that even the most efficient is lacking in those areas, but for our customer base, territory, and resale value, he did what he felt was best. We could’ve squeezed a little more, but it is a good compromise.
The driver still has the biggest impact on fuel economy. Big fleets try to regulate their trucks and they do a good job but the driver has an impact.
Another good friend of mine, Al Goodhall, is a top-notch driver for fuel economy. He’s not just after fuel economy for his bonus. He cares about our environment. Ours. Not his.
It is a way of life for him. He saves his company thousands of dollars every year in fuel at a company where all the trucks are the same. He has one car at home. It gets a certain amount of fuel per month. No more. That means he has to decide where he wants to go, and regulate his travel amount.
We need more Jamies and Als in our industry. I don’t think I’m at their level, but I will keep trying to find ways to improve. I will also keep encouraging others who save pennies wherever they can and promoting the good that we are doing. If you have drivers that care, go above and beyond to care for them.
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