At Express Freight Finance, we often bring our readers the latest development on self-driving trucks, and various technological advances in the trucking industry. However, at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis last month, alternative fuel trucks came to the forefront, and started a number of discussions.
Are Alternative Fuel Trucks Necessary?
A decade ago, the idea of alternative fuel trucks seemed like a great idea. The cost of fuel was skyrocketing across the United States. After the 2008 elections, legislation was on deck to give big tax incentives to fleet owners and independent drivers who decided to “go green” by 2016. Even as late as 2013, fuel prices were inching toward $4 per gallon, and alternative fuel trucks were looking like a great cost-saving measure for the shipping industry. However, with proposed rollbacks on the EPA, there is little incentive to make the switch to alternative fuel trucks.
The Power Held By Individual States
Whether or not proposed cuts to the EPA and other energy regulations pass or fizzle out is not lessening the demand for alternative fuel trucks. Individual states are offering their own incentives to truckers to make the switch to more environmentally-friendly vehicles, such as electric and liquid propane powered trucks. California, New York, and large parts of the Chicago metropolitan area are offering big tax incentives for drivers and fleets to start using alternative fuel trucks. To make a comparison, what the federal government is offering as an incentive equals one tenth of what California alone is offering. On top of that, the federal incentives to “go green” are split among all of the states.
The Forward Facing Element
Using green trucks, on top of the individual state tax incentives, is a big selling point among customers. Being able to claim an efficient and environmentally-friendly fleet is expected to garner more interest and business than those who are unwilling to consider making the switch. Manufacturers of alternative fuel truck engines are making big inroads with distributors like AmeriPride and Nestle, who have already added green trucks to their fleets, and have a long-term plan for a total conversion in the upcoming years.
Weighing The Risks
One of the big hurdles facing drivers and fleets is the cost of making the switch. Changing over a chassis to handle a green engine can get up into the $150,000 range. That is a considerable cash outlay before state incentives come into play. The bigger question everyone is asking is will fuel prices stay at the current low of $2 per gallon, or will the trucking industry see yet another spike lasting for years, in the near future?