I’ve been around long enough to remember when major changes in trucking technology came about at a much slower pace than what we see today.
Every day, and often multiple times per day, there is some news item about a new development around improving safety, fuel efficiency or reducing GHG emissions. Or they can relate to more innovative technologies like battery electric or fuel-cell electric vehicles and autonomous trucking.
It can be confusing – intimidating even – to know which technologies will bring value to your fleet, and which will merely add costs or complications while under-delivering a return on investment. You can go through all the calculations to determine a theoretical total cost of ownership, but we know in trucking that the gap between “in theory” and “in practice” can be wide. In some cases, very wide.
While fleet professionals cannot afford to stand still and avoid investing in new technology, they also can’t afford to invest in the wrong technology.
Truck rental may be an acceptable avenue for a fleet to dip a toe into new technology waters. Renting a truck that features a new technology can provide some insight into how it is likely to perform in a fleet’s operation. There are some constraints, however, as it’s likely the rental vehicle will not match the specs of the other vehicles in the fleet. While you might gain some insights, it may be difficult to draw an apples-to-apples comparison.
To counter this limitation, it may be feasible to obtain more accurate comparative information via full-service leasing. With a full-service lease you can match your current vehicle specs for everything except the new technology you are considering. This method allows you to isolate the technology itself and draw more informative conclusions as to its effectiveness and financial ROI, while leaving the maintenance up to the provider.
As the trucking industry continues along the path of integrating more disruptive technologies like battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles, full-service leasing will be an even more popular procurement option.
The risks of predicting total landed costs, including maintenance, battery management and residual value, will be on the provider, relieving the lessee of the burdens of uncertainty and making it easier to test these exciting advancements.
Full-service leasing makes sense for a variety of reasons but when it comes to evaluating new technology, it can be a great tool that allows you to learn “in practice” versus “in theory.”
Joe Gallick is Senior Vice President of Sales for NationaLease is an experienced supply chain executive and spokesperson in the logistics provider industry. Prior to joining NationaLease, Gallick served as the Senior Vice President of Penske Logistics for 13 years after four years as the Vice President National Accounts for Penske Truck Leasing.