Consultant report

Barriers to adoption of fuel-efficiency technologies in the North American on-road freight sector

This study paves new ground in its diverse, expansive coverage of the Class 7 and 8 tractor-trailer fleet. Using phone, focus group, and on-line survey methods, the authors interviewed nearly 1,900 owner-operators as well as representatives of small fleets and 20 larger fleets that own and operate over 50,000 trucks and 100,000 trailers, about their decision-making processes for adopting new efficiency technology. The stakeholder groups included for-hire and private trucking fleets of various sizes, shipping and logistics companies, truck and trailer manufacturers, component suppliers, and truck dealerships.

The findings indicate that there are clear market barriers to the widespread adoption of viable off-the-shelf efficiency technologies. These barriers include limited availability, lack of credible information about the benefits of new technologies, and uncertainty about the length of time required for fuel savings to pay back the investment in equipment. The findings suggest that policy measures could encourage increased development and deployment of fuel-saving technologies and practices in the trucking sector. Several trends in the fleet—including fleet owners’ awareness about fuel economy, longer ownership cycles, and expectations about payback period—suggest that many emerging, advanced efficiency technology package will be well received as they are offered in future years.

Contact: Ben Sharpe