Prime Inc. truck on highway
13 September


For those who suppose the big fleets got preferential therapy when producers allotted new vehicles over the previous couple years, suppose once more.

Paul Higgins, buying consultant for 8,000-truck fleet Prime Inc., advised attendees at FTR’s Transportation Convention that even his firm was unable to satisfy its new gear wants and had to have a look at non-traditional suppliers. To go exterior its regular three OEMs was not a choice that was taken flippantly.

“We like our explicit manufacturers of tractors and trailers and wish to be actually good companions with our distributors,” he mentioned. “We favor to have long-term relationships with our distributors and don’t wish to be fast to change.”

However Prime’s refrigerated, meals grade tanker, and flatbed companies remained regular in the course of the pandemic and it had the posh of drivers who have been able to work. Prime brings on about 2,500 drivers a yr and pays, homes, and feeds them whereas they look forward to a truck to be assigned.

“We pay our drivers once they’re able to go and if we don’t have a truck able to go, that creates some urgency on our half,” Higgins mentioned. “If Vendor A was unable to get sufficient tractors for us, we needed to go to Vendor B and Vendor C.”

(Photograph: iStock)

This launched some uncertainties into the enterprise by way of measuring its whole value of possession (TCO) as the corporate went from three truck suppliers, to 5.

“After we launched one other couple distributors, we don’t actually know what the residuals are doing there,” mentioned Higgins. “We’re not skilled with their restore community. We all know the up-front value [of the units]. However in a pandemic world you’re simply going to should take some probabilities and plug some numbers in, as a result of the sting of not having gear is worse than having to make a few of these guesses.”

Along with wanting past conventional sources for brand new vehicles, Prime additionally needed to prolong life-cycles on the gear it had. That meant holding vehicles past their optimum 600,000-mile cycle and including prolonged warrantees for added protection. In the meantime, it noticed the costs of used vehicles soar. That additionally threw its TCO calculations into disarray.

“It’s nonetheless the wild, wild west,” Higgins mentioned of used truck costs, although he thinks they peaked about six to eight months in the past.

A used truck that will have been bought for $150,000 would historically be price about $75,000 three years later, representing $25,000 a yr in depreciation. However Prime was seeing that three-year-old truck price $100,000 or $125,000, skewing TCO calculations.

Prime’s primary precedence was to maintain commerce cycles brief and hold drivers in new iron, as Higgins believes that’s the best option to recruit and retain drivers.


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