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Among the activities Volvo arranged for visiting trade press journalists in Guadalajara, was a roundtable discussion with several fleet managers. Through this discussion, I learned we have a lot more in common with our Mexican counterparts than I first thought. For example, fuel economy is actually very important to Mexican fleet operators. There, a pre-determined monthly increase in diesel prices allows them to plan for increased operating expenses, but they have a very difficult time passing those costs along to customers. Fuel surcharges don’t exist in Mexico.

This is a big reason why customers there are looking to invest in products that will help them better manage their fuel costs, the I-Shift automated transmission being one of them. One fleet participating in the discussion said his company has noticed a 10% improvement in fuel economy since testing the I-Shift. As is the case here in Canada, professional drivers in Mexico have a hard time gaining the respect they deserve from the public. The job pays well, but it’s still not seen as a desirable profession.

Mexico seems also to be on the brink of embarking on a period of regulatory transition. Formal hours-of-service regulations are looming, but are not yet fully deployed, as I understood it. But even so, the fleets we spoke to have their own restrictions, and monitor driver hours using paper logbooks as well as GPS. The impending rules will allow about four hours of driving for every two hours of rest. Trucking companies in Mexico are also required to subject equipment to emissions and safety checks twice a year. The fleet managers we met with, of course, represent some of the best run trucking companies in Mexico. The industry there is comprised of mostly smaller operators – only 100 trucking companies in Mexico run 100 or more power units. Getting people on the same page when it comes to regulating the industry might prove quite a challenge, but there’s a strong desire among the fleets we met with to raise the level of professionalism in the industry there.

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