PORTLAND, ORE. – As diesel fuel prices continue to rise, fleets and owner-operators alike are seeking ways to combat the added expense and increase profit margins. For Freightliner Trucks customer Robert West, owner of R.E. West, Inc. in Nashville, Tenn., the solution was in reducing idling time.
Using his knowledge of trucks and business savvy, West added Idle Solutions® auxiliary power units (APUs) to more than half of the trucks in his fleet, which is comprised of 80 Freightliner Century Class® S/T and Freightliner Columbia® trucks. As an interstate and intrastate truckload carrier that transports different types of freight throughout the United States and Canada, West’s decision resulted in dramatically reduced fuel costs and increased driver satisfaction.
“My fleet was spending an average of 46 percent of the time idling,” explained West. “But after equipping the trucks with Idle Solutions APUs, we’ve reduced that time to just two percent and we’re saving money as a result.”
With diesel prices currently in the $3 per gallon range, West expects to recoup his investment in less than 18 months. After that, he predicts he’ll save nearly $4,000 a year per truck or $320,000 a year.
Recognizing its customers’ need for APUs as a cost-efficient business solution, Freightliner Trucks was the first OEM to offer the units as a factory-installed option. Available on all Freightliner models, APUs provide customers with a quiet, self-contained unit that generates power for heating, air-conditioning, and other appliances without requiring the truck to idle.
“Offering anti-idling solutions is just another way we are helping our customers run smart and run safe,” said Jonathan Randall, director of marketing at Freightliner Trucks. “And since different customers have different needs, we also offer the battery-operated Bergstrom NITE (No-Idle Thermal Environment) System.”
Running an Efficient Fleet
After his first purchase of Freightliner vehicles equipped with APUs, he was so pleased with the reduction in his fuel costs that he purchased an additional 14 trucks last year and recently placed another order for 66 trucks. West appreciates that APUs run quieter and cleaner than idling the engine so drivers can comfortably spend the night in locations with anti-idling laws.
“An increasing number of cities, counties, and states are now passing strict anti-idling laws,” West said, pointing to California’s new anti-idling regulations that take effect statewide in 2007. “There’s virtually no noise in the trucks equipped with Idle Solutions APUs. My drivers tell me they’ve never slept so well in a truck.”
In tandem with the addition of APUs, West also points to the fuel savings he receives from the aerodynamic features of the Columbia and Century Class S/T trucks and the lightweight and powerful Detroit Diesel Series 60 and MBE4000 engines.
Product and Service Reliability
The factory availability of APUs is just one feature that makes owning Freightliner trucks a great value, West says. He purchased his first Freightliner in 1967 and, although he’s owned other brands in the past, he has become a loyal Freightliner Trucks customer.
“Freightliner Trucks is on a continual upswing,” West said. “The trucks are reliable, have great maneuverability, and my drivers love all of the creature comforts inside the cab. And it’s important for me to keep my drivers happy – you can’t just talk it, you have to walk it. Otherwise, they’ll find another job.
“With my Freightliner fleet, I have a way to maintain driver satisfaction and help make my business more successful. The APUs keep my drivers happy and well-rested, provide a solution for anti-idling laws, and make sure my drivers are safe and comfortable in extreme heat and cold. Plus, since the APUs reduce wear on the engine, among other components, there is no doubt that the life of each truck will be extended.”
West also gives high marks to Freightliner’s customer service. Although he employs five mechanics at his shop in Tennessee, he depends on Freightliner’s network of dealers and service centers across the country when his trucks are on the road.
“If one my drivers needs assistance between Amarillo and Los Angeles, I know there’s a 24/7 Freightliner dealership in Albuquerque and another in Kingman, Ariz.,” he said. “These aren’t just dots on the map. They’re service centers with real people who will get us back on the road.”
Freightliner Trucks is a division of Freightliner LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and is the leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America. Freightliner LLC produces and markets Class 3-8 trucks and is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world's largest commercial vehicle manufacturer.