Letters: ’07 Engines, Fuel Surcharges

These Letters to the Editor appear in the May 3 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

’07 Diesel Engines

Review of the 2007 generation of diesel engines has been a very hot topic this year. At the annual American Trucking Associations Technology & Maintenance Council meeting, I was one of the panelists asked to score the performance of the 2007 engines based on TransAm’s experiences. My comments about the unacceptable performance issues with the Caterpillar C-15 engines seem to have received a lot of press, and I feel it is important to share the rest of the story.

While our operating costs have increased with the 2007 engines mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this is not unique to Caterpillar engines; the same holds true for all manufacturers when compared with pre-2007 engines. To comply with EPA emissions standards, EPA ’07 engines require diesel particulate filters, ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel and low-ash engine oil, and therefore cost more to operate.

With product enhancements al-ways comes the adversity of dealing with problems that may or may not have been anticipated. Caterpillar Inc. is a world-class supplier and has worked diligently to resolve every problem encountered with its EPA ’07 engines. Company representatives have listened and encouraged TransAm feedback and have spent countless hours focusing their efforts on problem solving and technological improvements to increase reliability and overall performance.

Although we have been disappointed with the performance of the engine, Caterpillar has continued to provide tremendous service and support, and we have bought nothing but Caterpillar EPA ’07 engines to date. Its customer commitment and persistence when dealing with these challenges should be commended.

Frank Nicholson
Vice President of Maintenance
TransAm Trucking Inc.
Olathe, Kan.

Editor’s Note: The press coverage referred to in the letter above included a story in Transport Topics headlined “Fleet Reviews Mixed in ’07 Engine Tests; Results Vary on Fuel Mileage, Expenses” that was published in our Feb. 22 print edition on p. 25 and quoted the letter writer. (Click here for previous story.)

Fuel Surcharges

Great article on the need to change the basis for fuel surcharges (“Carriers Can Achieve Significant Savings by Altering Practices, Consultants Say,” 4-19, p. 1). It simply amazes me that with the technology available today, some carriers continue to base fuel surcharges on a percentage of the freight rate.

Duff Swain, president of Trincon Group, Columbus, Ohio, makes an excellent point in the article, indicating that fuel surcharges need to be accounted for as offsetting fuel costs, rather than being used as a point of revenue.

I know we are hearing a consistent flow of dialogue from parties in the process of implementing new standards for fuel surcharges that allow for accountability on the part of both the shipper and the carrier in obtaining a fair fuel surcharge rate.

Keep up the great work!

Chris Lee
Marketing Director
Orange, Texas


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