ATA revises, increases diesel fuel cost estimates for 2004, ’05

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The American Trucking Associations revised the trucking industry’s 2004 fuel costs and projected an increase in the amount it will spend on fuel in 2005. Despite recent dips in both diesel and gasoline prices, ATA said the trucking industry will spend $87.7 billion on fuel this year; this marks a $2.7 billion increase over the previous estimate of $85 billion issued in September.

ATA also reported Thursday, Dec. 15 that motor carriers spent $65.9 billion on diesel fuel in 2004, $3.3 billion more than the $62.6 billion originally calculated. ATA reconfigured the numbers after the government issued new data on fuel consumption.

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said that despite recent fluctuations in energy prices, diesel costs remain the top concern of motor carriers. For many motor carriers, fuel represents the second-highest operating expense, accounting for as much as 25 percent of total operating costs. “Motor carriers continue to face significant pressures from high fuel costs,” Graves said. “The revised fuel costs further demonstrate the urgency of our situation.”

Higher fuel costs are hitting the trucking industry as it prepares to accept ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, scheduled to hit the market in mid-2006; and a new round of lower-emissions diesel engines mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2007. ULSD could add as much as 13 cents to the cost of producing and distributing on-road diesel fuel. New engines, meanwhile, are predicted to cost more and burn more fuel.