Trucks On The Runway

Advanced technologies help truck manufacturers roll out products offering higher operational efficiencies.


Facing stricter environmental regulations than ever, truck manufacturers are developing innovative solutions to comply with these rules while helping industries keep the wheels of commerce rolling throughout our nation. “The EPA emissions regulations have a dramatic effect on the operation of trucks because of the emissions compliance that is now required,” notes Todd Bloom, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Fuso in Swedesboro, NJ. “Readers should be aware of these new laws and how the laws will affect the way they move their goods to market.”

Major environmental requirements just in the past few years include the 2008 ruling mandating that diesel engines equip a DPF (diesel particulate filter) to remove particulates from the truck’s emissions. “The positive side of this is the particles are gone—but the negative side is it costs companies more to install this equipment,” Bloom reports.

In 2010, any diesel engine sold in the US had to comply with eliminating NOx levels by using an SCR (selective catalytic reduction), continues Bloom. “This is another very expensive piece of equipment that is loaded onto the truck chassis. It also requires monitoring the level of a fluid that is injected into the exhaust that causes a chemical reaction so the NOx breaks down into nitrogen and oxygen, which is what we breathe in the natural air. It’s a wonderful chemical reaction, but there is that cost factor once again.”

 

Consider Total Cost Of Ownership

So today, as companies anticipate purchasing a new truck to replace the same one they bought in 2005 or 2006, they are faced with higher purchase prices. “If you want to buy that same truck today, you are looking at a cost increase of anywhere between $15,000 and $25,000,” Bloom says. “So we are cleaning up the environment, but there are definitely costs involved. In addition to the higher initial cost of the vehicle, there are also higher maintenance costs associated with the more sophisticated technologies required on the trucks.”

Companies need to understand that selecting the right vehicle to do the job is not about just going out and purchasing a new vehicle, continues Bloom. “You have to select a vehicle that will best suit your operation, which means you need to consider the characteristics of the routes you are driving, the length of your routes, and whether you are moving goods in city driving or in the suburbs. These factors have to be considered in your decision as you examine the most efficient way for you to move your goods to market.”

The driver for buyers today focus on finding a way to deliver goods for less money, Bloom says. “This means you need to calculate how to achieve the lowest total cost of ownership. Transportation costs, coupled with the cost of materials and labor, are very expensive in operating your business. So the world of trucks is changing and we at Mitsubishi Fuso are addressing the concern over the increased cost of trucks. More importantly, we are offering ways to contain the total cost of ownership.”

Small Displacement Engines

In helping companies find the right truck at the lowest total cost of ownership, Mitsubishi Fuso decided to deploy—in its new FUSO Canter series of trucks introduced this month—smaller displacement engines, which equates to less fuel consumption and better fuel economy. “These engines are matched to transmissions with new advanced technologies that drive the power directly to the wheels,” Bloom says. “This new series of products is focused on moving goods from point A to point B as inexpensively as possible, at the lowest possible acquisition cost, with the lowest maintenance cost possible, and at the highest residual value possible.”

In addition to these new features, the new series of Mitsubishi Fuso trucks offers a low-cab-forward design for better visibility and maneuverability. This means the ground is visible at about eight feet from the driver’s view inside the cab—opposed to about 24 feet for a conventional truck with an extended hood. This design will help drivers avoid any accidents or vehicle damage. Bloom notes that most vehicle damage occurs maneuvering around parking lots and streets—and does not occur as much on the highway.

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