OTTAWA, Ont. — Skyrocketing fuel prices have the trucking industry aggressively trying to maximize fuel efficiency wherever possible, says Canadian Trucking Alliance CEO David Bradley.
“CTA and the provincial trucking associations are seeking the mandatory activation of speed limiters on all trucks operating in Canada to conserve fuel,” says Bradley. “We are calling upon the federal government to renew and improve the Natural Resources Canada rebate program for the purchase of auxiliary power units to reduce engine idling; and we want all the provincial governments to agree to weight allowances for the installation of anti-idling and anti-emissions devices so payload is not impaired.”
The diesel fuel used by truckers has increased in price by 21 per cent over the past ten weeks and today’s prices are 26.5 cents per litre, or 64 per cent higher than they were two years ago at about the same time.
According to the CTA, a typical truck tractor holds 900 litres of diesel fuel, and is likely to fill up around 85 times per year. Each fill will run an operator $610, or approximately $52,000 per year, before taxes.
This can vary depending on where the fuel is purchased and in what volumes, the weight of the truck, etc., noted the CTA, but after adding in federal and provincial diesel fuel taxes and the GST, the cost per tank goes up by another $220.
“Trucking is like every other business and we will have to pass our increased costs along to our customers through fuel surcharges, rate increases, or a combination of both. Fuel surcharges are currently running as high as 30 per cent for some types of operations,” says Bradley.
Since trucks haul 90 per cent of all consumer products and foodstuffs and two-thirds of the country’s trade with the U.S., Bradley concedes this definitely could inflate the cost of consumer goods. “But, that is up to our customers, not the truckers,” he says.
Bradley is also concerned the new truck diesel fuel and engine emission standards that come into effect later this year could work against industry fuel efficiency efforts.
“The industry is caught between a rock and a hard place. This fall we will see the introduction of ultra low sulphur diesel fuel (the sulphur content of truck diesel will drop from the current allowable level of 500 ppm to 15 ppm) and a new generation of smog-free truck engines,” he explains. “This is great news in terms of cleaner air, but the new fuel has a lower energy content than existing diesel fuel and the new truck engines, while cleaner, are expected to be up to 5 per cent less fuel efficient than current engines. We have to try and make that up somehow.”
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