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The Changing Profile of Private Fleets

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The transportation industry is constantly evolving, whether you’re looking at propulsion/fuel choice, the move from manual shifting to automatic transmissions, or simply brand loyalty for certain OEMs. Once upon a time, the operating profiles for private trucking fleets versus the for-hire trucks were somewhat similar. Not anymore. Today, almost all private trucks travel less than 500 miles on a route, with a quarter of those running routes of less than 50 miles. The appeal of getting drivers home at night and avoiding the expenses of being out on the road for an extended time frame is significant. Meanwhile, only 20% of for-hire trucks are running routes under 250 miles, and rarely do they run routes under 50 miles.

Sell Where The Buyers Are:

Private fleets own 3 times as many Class 4-8 trucks as for-hire (75%). This is a long-term trend that shows no sign of abating. Even when looking at the Class 8 market by itself, two thirds of all truck purchases are by private fleets versus for-hire firms. Obviously, this has great implications on the amount of time and effort a dealer’s sales force puts into contacting the market segments.

Game Changers:

Whether you view routes by truckload distance or by ton-miles, most moves are less than 250 miles. 41% are less than 300 miles, with 45% of all truckload routes being between 300 and 550 miles. Only 14% are the traditional long-haul routes that keep drivers away from home for a week at a time. This may be reaction to firms trying to cope with the driver shortage, but it can also have an impact on the type of equipment being purchased.

Size Matters:

The size of the fleet also seems to be a strong indicator of what size engine they will purchase. In the medium-duty market, the largest 12 fleets (1/5th of the market) show a disproportionate tendency to buy engines under 7 liters (78% versus 22% engines larger than 7 liters). The percentages change radically when you look at the top 30,000 fleets (65% of the market), which choose the larger powerplant by a 54% to 46% ratio. Bigger fleets are buying smaller engines; smaller fleets tend to buy larger engines.

The heavy-duty portion of the private fleet market is dominated by fewer players, with one third of all trucks bought by just 61 companies and 81% of all engines from just two suppliers. Engine selection among the top 25,000 fleets is more balanced, with the same two engine manufacturers capturing 59% of all sales but with 40% of engine purchases coming from other sources. The fact that Cummins is maintaining a strong market share in spite of being the only independent diesel engine manufacturer (selling against the OEM captive market) is testimony to the efficiency, reliability and total value proposition. Even as the private fleet market continues to change, Cummins is one step ahead of the curve in offering products that exceed customer needs and expectations.

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