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Tis the season … to replace aging vehicles 

February 27, 2018

The beginning of each year is a good time for operators to audit their commercial-vehicle fleet and replace aging and troublesome vehicles.

Sadly, many commercial-vehicle fleet owners do not have a well-constructed fleet-replacement policy and replace a vehicle only when it breaks down continually. However, not having a fleet-replacement policy in place makes it difficult for many operators to finance new vehicles.

Many commercial-vehicle operators grapple with vehicle-replacement policies and strive to find the correct timing to replace their vehicles.

Failure to replace the older vehicles in a fleet at the correct time can be detrimental to a transport business.

Considering the high cost of parts and the difficulty of finding good technicians who are capable of repairing the various components in a modern truck (including engines and gearboxes), I believe that the secret is to plan for vehicles to be replaced at the end of their economic life and before they need major component repairs.

However, to establish when the end of a truck’s economic life occurs is not an easy task and varies from one operation to another. The specific vehicle application is a factor that influences this timing.

If they have been properly maintained and operated, medium commercial vehicles and smaller distribution-type vehicles normally reach the end of their economic life at around the four to five-year period, or at approximately 300 000 to
400 000 km.

Heavy-duty vehicles normally reach the end of their economic life between the six and seven-year period, or at 400 000 to 500 000 km, while extra-heavy commercial vehicles, operating in long-distance operations, normally reach the end of their economic life between six and seven years, or at about 700 000 km.

One of the main advantages to be gained from replacing aging vehicles is that the new generation of vehicles on the market today offer improved fuel consumption. As fuel costs are one of the major expenses of a transport operation, purchasing new vehicles can reduce overall operating costs.

Maintenance costs will also be drastically reduced when using new vehicles. Many vehicle suppliers offer excellent and extended vehicle warranties, which ensure that maintenance costs will be limited to routine services, which makes it much easier to plan operating expenses.

In addition, most of the new generation of trucks available on the market today are equipped with the very latest safety features, like anti-lock and electronic braking systems, making them safer on the road.

The company image is also enhanced with the purchase of new vehicles, as many valued and important customers, as well as the public, judge the professionalism of a transport company by the appearance and condition of its vehicles they see on the road.

Finally, new vehicles also ensure that the fleet is always available and reliable – two very important factors in any fleet.

Vic Oliver is one of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, and has been in this industry for over 50 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.

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