Managers of Class 3-6 truck fleets are increasingly looking at gasoline engines when spec'ing new models for their fleets, according to a recent industry survey by Work Truck magazine.
"Some fleets are transitioning away from diesel to non-selective catalytic reduction (SCR) trucks," said Joe Brightwell, truck operations manager at Wheels Inc. "The delta between gasoline and diesel fuel has disappeared and the additional cost to purchase a diesel engine cannot be recouped in fuel savings."
Historically, the price of diesel fuel has been lower than gasoline; however, since 2010, the per gallon price of diesel has been more expensive than the per gallon price of gasoline. "Since 2010, retail pump prices for diesel have averaged 30 cents more than regular gasoline, with a high degree of seasonal variation," said Marcin Michno, project manager, strategic consulting at Element Fleet Management.
A corollary factor has been issues with diesel particulate filters (DPF), along with the growing need to educate drivers about the regeneration process, which has become an issue at some fleets.
Other factors prompting increased interest in gasoline engines is the additional cost of a diesel engine package. "Businesses are trending to gasoline in applications that are putting 25,000 or fewer miles per year due to the initial cost difference of approximately $7,500," said Tony Blezien, vice president, operations at LeasePlan USA.
Another consideration in the gasoline vs. diesel decision process is the increasing labor rate for diesel mechanics. In addition, there is a diminishing number of qualified diesel mechanics in the labor market. "Fleets are very concerned that diesel mechanics are becoming more costly and their maintenance choices are limited," said Mark Stumne, truck engineer at GE Capital Fleet Services.
Although there is an increase in spec'ing of gasoline engines, diesel engines continue to represent the majority of engines spec'ed for medium-duty trucks.
By Mike Antich