The U.S. average retail price of diesel fell last week by 1 cent to $3.207 a gallon.
Still, the trucking industry’s main fuel remains 61.1 cents per gallon more expensive than it did a year ago, when it was $2.596 a gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly price summary.
The average price of diesel dropped in all areas of the country, ranging from 1.5 cents lower in the Lower Atlantic region to just a 0.2 cent per gallon reduction in the West Coast region, excluding California, the Department of Energy said. The least expensive diesel is in the Gulf Coast region at $2.981 a gallon, while the most expensive is in California at $3.929 a gallon.
Trucking owners say the slow decline in prices for all grades of fuels is helping them, however some companies believe they have been able to mitigate the year-over-year increases by stressing improved fuel efficiency when it comes to the operation of their fleets.
Hudson, Ill.-based Nussbaum Transportation has increased the fuel performance of its trucks by 1.5% so far this year when compared with 2017. Trucks are averaging 8.81 miles per gallon now compared with 8.68 miles per gallon last year. The company hired two of its retired drivers as coaches. They had reputations for being very fuel-efficient drivers and will help bring up the driving staff’s numbers.
“They are watching what our drivers get and they are coaching them for better fuel mileage. These are guys who were both drivers at Nussbaum,” said CEO Brent Nussbaum in an interview with Transport Topics. “We bonus our drivers in their pay in their fuel scores. Their fuel scores are only part of their scorecard. But if their fuel scores are up, they make more money, bottom line. So what happens is, I save on fuel and I pass it along to them.”
Meanwhile, the price of regular unleaded gasoline also fell last week by 2.2 cents to $2.821 a gallon from $2.843, reflecting the typical drop in fuel demand at the end of the summer driving season and the beginning of fall.
Gasoline prices fell in eight of country’s nine regions, dropping the most in the Lower Atlantic, where it went down 3.3 cents a gallon from $2.703 to $2.67 on Aug. 20. Gasoline is 41 cents a gallon more expensive than it was a year ago. The cheapest gas in the country is in the Gulf Coast region at $2.568 and the most expensive is in the West Coast region at $3.307.
“It’s quiet out there,” Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service told TT. “Today, it’s the lowest national gasoline price since May 10. That speaks to how flat the price has been in what most people would define as the driving season, and it’s been pretty flat for diesel too.”
Since Aug. 6, the price of both diesel and gasoline has continued to fall. Gasoline is down 3.1 cents and diesel 1.6 cents. The drop coincides with a decline in the price per barrel for West Texas Intermediate crude, the industry’s benchmark fuel. Since Aug. 6, WTI is down $3.10 a barrel, from $69.01 to $65.91 at the close of markets on Aug. 20.