Changing the Way We Operate

By Patrick Gaskins | January 27, 2022

Originally appeared in Fleet Owner

As we see a greater acceptance of BEVs in the passenger and light truck markets, we will naturally see an evolution and cost reduction for heavy-duty trucks and tractors. This is where we need to evaluate how we operate this new technology.

A major shift is underway in transportation, and we all need to understand how this will affect our businesses operationally and financially going forward.

Even without government influence, interference, support—however you want to say it—shippers and carriers will adopt new technologies to reduce costs and add efficiencies. The key is that you are constantly evaluating not only your fleet equipment but how you operate.

Traditional diesel-powered tractors can carry 50 to 200 gallons of fuel, giving them a range of about 375 to 1,500 miles at 7.5 miles per gallon. Diesel is readily available, and the threat of running out of this fuel is slim. The cost of diesel-powered tractors, until recently, has been low compared to new battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and compressed natural gas vehicles (CNG). Maintenance on diesel tractors is predictable and the total cost of ownership (TCO) is relatively low for the first five years of operation.

This is the way we’ve always done things. But now let’s talk about the future. As we see a greater acceptance of BEVs in the passenger and light-truck markets, we naturally will see an evolution and cost reduction for heavy-duty trucks and tractors. This is where we need to evaluate how we operate this new technology. Today, the range of BEVs on a single charge cannot compete with diesel-powered tractors, and charging stations are not as readily available, so routing becomes a critical factor.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the already growing trend toward buying goods online rather than brick-and-mortar stores. While this trend started with consumers, it has morphed to businesses, adding to the importance of last-mile delivery.

These shorter hauls are ripe for the deployment of electric vehicles. Drivers who have had experience with BEVs talk about how quiet they are to operate, the ease of driving them, their fast acceleration from a stop, and how they are less tired at the end of the shift. Let’s not forget the cool factor, which has appeal to younger drivers.

I have always been the person who preaches about the importance of TCO. And I am aware that BEVs cost more than their diesel-powered counterparts. However, I think we are at a point of convergence between diesel-powered trucks and electric trucks. As more and more electric trucks are produced, their initial purchase price will come down. Also, TCO is about more than the initial purchase price and factors in the cost of “fuel” and maintenance. But there also are “soft” costs that need to be factored into the TCO equation, including the cost of attracting and retaining drivers and the growing importance of having a sustainability story to tell.

Everyone is concerned about our environment and would much rather swim in crystal clean lakes, rivers, and oceans. But younger generations are looking for work that will not only pay a good wage but also will offer them a fulfilling career that they are proud to talk about. Our industry has made great strides over the past few years to leave behind the stigma of a tractor belching black smoke all over the highway.

Our current fleet of clean diesel vehicles is a testament to our desire to move forward with technology and operate more efficiently. Our next step into the world of BEVs will be bold, but if we execute with our financial and environmental sustainability in mind the future of our industry will be bright.


At Corcentric, we stand ready to help any fleet bridge that gap.  To learn how we can help, contact Corcentric today.