Want to clear the air? Show us the money

I just returned from the National Truck Equipment Associations’ Work Truck Show in Hotlanta, Ga. (The city failed to live up to that nickname during my stay, by the way – I even noticed a few snowflakes on Wednesday morning).
Hybrid trucks and alternative fuels dominated discussions at the event. OEMs were surprisingly candid about the costs of hybrid vehicles. Most agreed the up-charge is about US$40,000-$45,000 for Eaton’s hybrid system; tack on an extra US$15,000 if you require an electronic PTO.
With the Canadian and US dollars near par, you can count on the cost being about the same on this side of the border. The major difference, however, is that federal, state and even local tax credits and grants are available in the US, which in some cases can combine to cover nearly 100% of the cost increase.
Rachel Beckhardt, project analysis, corporate partners with Environmental Defense, spoke to the audience about such incentives. In some cases, she reported, there is more money available than there are companies looking to take advantage of them.
In New Hampshire, for instance, there sits a seven-figure pool of incentive money and yet not one trucking company from there has reached out its plate for a piece of the pie, Beckhardt pointed out. What an interesting conundrum.
I would bet that there are a lot of trucking companies here in Canada that would welcome the opportunity to offset some of the up-charge that hybrid vehicles currently carry. Instead, in the absence of incentives, most fleets north of the 49th are sitting on the sidelines and waiting for higher volume orders in the US to drive down production costs. Certainly, not all fleets are guilty of this. Canada has its early adopters as well, especially amongst the courier ranks.
But even with fuel savings of 30% or more and idle-time reductions of as much as 80% in some applications, it takes an awful long time to recover that $40,000 up-front investment. The government has been shelling out incentives for passenger vehicle hybrids, isn’t it time to consider extending these to include commercial vehicles?

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • I have been trucking for over 28 years and now with the high cost of fuel the companies will tell us to drive back at 90kh’s which
    I believe is a safe highway speed to drive at over these many years. But I have seen many drivers leave the industry because they can’t make any money at trucking. I am 49 and I see very few younger drivers hit the roads these days. Regulation in the trucking industry is or will bring the industry to it’s knees as alot of the older drivers stop driving in the next five years