Lack of Truck Stop Electrification Usage Linked to Poor Economy

Many truck drivers are still unaware of truck stop electrification technology and a recently conducted survey through trucking social media was performed of driver attitudes in regard to TSE.

The following are the questions, driver responses and industry analysis from the survey:

  • Are you an owner operator, a lease operator, or a company driver? 31.1% answered owner operator with 8.9% as leased and 60% company driver.

Analysis: As companies realized that logistics is a critical element of their strategy, truck operations have been brought in-house or contracted out to large, national fleet operators. Therefore, the high percentage of respondents who identify themselves as “company drivers” is consistent with industry trends.

  • About how many nights do you spend on the road each year? 0-100 = 11.1%, 101-200 = 8.9%, 201-300 = 40% and 301+ = 40%.

Analysis: Trucking remains a critical element of the country’s shipping infrastructure. With the exponential growth of e-Commerce and its reliance network of fulfillment centers close to population centers, long-distance hauling by trucks has grown in importance. In turn, drivers are spending more and more nights away from their home base.

  • Where do you usually park for the night? Company terminal = 26.7%, Shipper-Receiver = 48.9%, Rest Area = 57.8%, Truck Stop = 86.7%, Other = 22.2%.

Analysis: To date, TSE facilities have focused marketing efforts on truck stops and rest areas throughout the country. While these locations are the most important to meet TSE needs of drivers, a huge opportunity to save fuel and reduce emissions involves installing equipment at shipping and receiving points. A TSE company is currently working to install its technology adjacent to the JFK Air Cargo facilities. This pilot program would provide invaluable insight on the value of TSE at a shipper/receiver parking area.

  • Do you idle most nights? Yes = 42.2%, No = 57.8%

Analysis: TSE internal field surveys suggest that the main alternative to idling is a sleeping bag and drivers’ tolerance for discomfort. While this does save on fuel and cuts emissions, drivers do not get a full night’s rest which, in turn, impacts their daytime alertness and overall highway safety.

  • Does your company provide an APU? Yes = 28.9%, No = 71.1%

Analysis: APU is an important technology. However, costs and weight (over 400 pounds) have been significant inhibitors. There is no national legislation that excludes the weight of an APU unit from the overall weight limits. With an emphasis on maximizing loads, the weight factor is significant.

  • Does your company pay for TSE Services? Yes = 6.7%, No = 93.3%
  • Does your company pay for hotel rooms instead of idling? Yes = 6.7%, No = 93.3%

Analysis: Trucking companies have done little to provide alternatives to idling. Over 93% of drivers reported that their employers do not pay for either TSE usage or lodging. Since these same employers will pay for fuel, few drivers have an incentive to turn off their engines. Even those instances where the company will cover the cost of alternatives to idling, drivers report that reimbursement is slow.

  • Does your company offer you a fuel bonus? Yes = 24.4 %, No = 75.6%

Analysis: Again, there is a disconnect between driver rewards and the financial savings of TSE, which includes lower fuel consumption and reduction engine wear. Over 75% of drivers receive no incentive to reduce fuel consumption.

  • Do you regularly see TSE locations where you shut down overnight? Yes = 8.9%, No = 91.1%
  • Do you regularly pass TSE locations along your route? Yes = 35.6%, No = 64.4%

Analysis: The largest challenge to the industry is readily available TSE sites especially along the major highway corridors. The survey clearly shows that there is much to be done to make TSE facilities ubiquitous.

  • Have you ever tried truck stop electrification (TSE) services before? Yes = 28.9%, No = 71.1%

Analysis: Truck Stop Electrification makes sense to drivers. Even with limited availability, nearly 30% of the respondents have tried it.

  • If your company paid for you to use TSE, would you try it? Yes = 86.7%, No = 13.3%

Analysis: Clearly, the single largest barrier to using TSE is economic. As seen in the prior responses, a large majority of drivers have no incentives to save fuel. If anti-idling was covered by freight companies, utilization would increase significantly.

The Truck Stop Electrification Survey was conducted during November, 2012.

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