When its comes to
acquiring trucks, regardless of whether you are buying new or used or
leasing, the principals involved in selecting the appropriate vehicles are
the same. The objective is to maximize the return on your investment.
Here are some recommendations to assist you in
defining and evaluating your purchasing decisions in order to make the
Stay Informed. Keep abreast of developments with vehicles and their
components and technology. Along with reading trade publications, attend
truck and equipment trade shows. These are excellent opportunities to be
hands-on with the latest new products and to talk directly with vehicle
manufacturers, component suppliers and service providers.
Take advantage of truck and component
manufactures’ resources. They have considerable experience with
specifying trucks for all kinds of applications and vocations and can
provide sound advice and guidance.
Find a truck dealer or leasing company to partner with
for business solutions and value-added support services.
Requirements. Decide on
your expectations with, and requirements for, your vehicles. What do you
want in terms fuel economy, performance, durability, efficiency,
productivity, maintenance, safety, driver comfort and so forth?
Consider such things as your load requirements,
operating environment and conditions, driver proficiency, powertrain
(diesel or gasoline engine; automatic, automated or manual transmission),
wheelbase and cab style (which impacts maneuverability), desired road
speeds, maintenance requirements and cycles, trade-in or resale cycles,
Review your current and previous equipment specs to
determine if your equipment is performing well or if there are recurring
problems or trends. Scrutinize maintenance and operating costs.
components and options that offer increased reliability and durability and
less downtime through extended service intervals and lower required
maintenance. By way of example, brakes, wheels, clutches, drivelines, fifth
wheels, synthetic lubes and coolants are among the components that can be
spec’d for increased vehicle uptime.
Investigate the benefits of specs, options and
accessories that will improve truck and driver safety.
Don’t overlook driver ergonomics. The driver has
a critical role in achieving optimum vehicle performance. The happier and
more comfortable a driver is, the safer and more productive he will be.
Lifecycle. Building a
vehicle optimized for your specific application will provide the lowest
overall cost of ownership over its lifetime. Rather than making equipment
acquisition decisions on initial acquisition cost, base them on total cost
of ownership — long-term operating and maintenance costs, vehicle
productivity, trade-in/resale value, impact of taxes, cash flow and so on.
particularly full-service leasing, may be a
viable alternative to buying. Along with tax advantages and predictable
costs, leasing improves cash flow because there
is no down payment and allows capital to be retained for other matters.
Leasing programs can be tailored to fit a specific
business and as changes occur, can be renewed or modified. They can include
scheduled maintenance, vehicle washings, 24-hour road service, substitute
vehicles and fuel tax reporting, licensing and permitting.
One advantage of a lease compared to buying is that at
the end of the lease term, the truck doesn’t have to be sold or
traded in, a process that can be time-consuming, expensive and frustrating.
Take the time to do your homework before making your
decisions about acquiring trucks. You are not just buying a vehicle, you
are investing in your organization’s business. BI
David Kolman is a veteran truck communicator, keynote
speaker and long-haul trucker. Commissioned as an Honorary Colonel on the
Kentucky governor’s staff for his work promoting traffic safety, he
actively participates in trade associations and reports news and
information about the trucking industry for broadcasting and print media.
Changes to the heavy vehicle use tax
For the tax year ending June 30, 2006, changes to the
Heavy Vehicle Use Tax include:
Tax now due in full; there no longer is an installment
Now a credit for a tax-paid vehicle sold during the tax
Companies paying the tax for 25 or more vehicles have to
file electronically. However, the IRS is not yet prepared for this so
taxpayers need to continue to file their Form 2290s by mail or in person.
The IRS hopes to have the electronic filing system operating by
Vehicles registered in Canada or Mexico that operate in
the United States no longer get a 25 percent reduction in the tax.
Equipment news roundup
Eaton has two new
fully automated transmissions: the Fuller UltraShift HV (Highway Value)
medium-duty transmission and the heavy-duty Fuller UltraShift LHP
(Line-haul High Performance) transmission. The HV is designed for Class 6
and 7 vehicles with diesel engines in the 195 to 260 hp. range with torque
capacities up to 660 pounds/foot and loads up to 33,000 pounds gross
vehicle weight. A key feature is the Hill Assist which automatically
minimizes rollback on grades while the operator makes the transition from
the brake pedal to the accelerator. The LHP transmission provides fully
automatic “two-pedal”operation and features 13 speeds and
progressive gearing for superior startability and better operating
Freightliner Group plans to
include electronic stability control with its Roll Advisor & Control
safety technology for its trucks. Developed in cooperation with ArvinMeritor’s Meritor-Wabco Vehicle Control Systems subsidiary, the technology uses sensors integrated into a
truck’s anti-lock brake system to track the truck’s lateral
acceleration and wheel speed and detect the potential for rollover. The
technology is designed to prevent rollover by alerting drivers to recognize
risky vehicle maneuvers and/or reduce the forces pushing the truck toward
rollover by automatically slowing the truck to reduce the risk of an
Nissan Diesel America has
increased its standard warranty coverage on its 2006 model year UD Trucks
for longer protection periods for the base vehicle and selected chassis and
powertrain components. Coverage is now for three years with unlimited
mileage and 100 percent parts and labor reimbursement for warranty repairs.
Sterling Trucks unit of DaimlerChrysler plans to
introduce a new cabover truck that covers Classes 3, 4 and 5 for the North
American market next year. The vehicle will be manufactured using common
components and parts from across DaimlerChrysler’s various brands.
Further development of other medium-duty trucks is also in the works.
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