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US Trucking Industry Will Spend $87.7 Billion on Fuel in 2005, Up 33% from 2004

The real price of diesel is back up to its level during the energy crisis in the early 80s.

The American Trucking Associations estimates that the US trucking industry will spend $87.7 billion on fuel in 2005—a 33% increase over the $65.9 billion spent in 2004. The ATA increased its earlier estimate of $85 billion issued in September after the government issued new data on fuel consumption.

For many motor carriers, fuel represents the second-highest operating expense, accounting for as much as 25% of total operating costs, according to the group.

Trucking companies are already bracing for the higher fuel cost of ultra low-sulfur diesel (ULSD), scheduled to hit the market in mid-2006. ULSD could add between 5 and 13 cents per gallon to the cost of producing and distributing on-road fuel.

Furthermore, meeting the more stringent EPA emissions standards coming into effect in 2007 will likely result in higher engine prices and rising prices and a greater degradation of fuel economy than expected. (Earlier post.)

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, projects that retail on-road diesel prices will average $2.54/gallon in 2006, up 5.4% ($0.13) from this year. (The EIA estimates gasoline prices will rise 6.6% to an average $2.42.)

The EIA estimates that in 2006, total domestic energy demand will increase at an annual rate of about 2.0%, despite continued concerns about tight supplies and projected high prices for oil and natural gas. Prices for crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas are projected to remain high through 2006 because of continuing tight international supplies and hurricane-induced supply losses.


Cameron Dell

I always wondered why trucks have rear ends with hypo-gears and not trans axles. A lot of buses have trans axles in them. By reversing this configuration and using it in a semi a 25% fuel saving and power increase could be achieved.

tom deplume

Diesel seems to be losing its economic advantage over spark ignition engines for the forseeable future.

Adam H.

When diesel is 30-40% more expensive than gasoline (like it is now), the MPG benefit of diesel is nil.

Mileage aside, as long as diesel maintenance costs remain below those of gasoline engines and diesels produce prodigious amounts of torque (neither of these will ever change) diesel will never lose its inherent economic advantage.

That is, unless diesel goes 60-90% higher cost per gallon than gasoline.

tom deplume

An Atkinson cycle driving an hydraulic system could better the low end torque of diesels, use less fuel per ton/mile, and be able to use a wider range of cleaner fuels like E85. Maintanence costs of spark ignition engines have dropped several fold over the last 30 years due to the use of unleaded gasoline, improvements in materials, better lubricants, and electronic ignition and fuel injection.

Jesse Jenkins

Maybe this will cause truck operators to finely wise-up to the benefits of fuel economy improvements. There are a whole host of things, from boat tails to hydrogen boost systems, that could be done to improve the fuel efficiency of our trucking fleet and we all know, fuel efficiency can have an incredibly positive impact.


My son is a long haul truck driver. He tells me that he has heard about a bill that congress is reviewing, that if enacted, sets a maximum standard speed limit for all semis nation wide. Do you know anything about this bill? Thanks,
Bill S.

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