J.D. Power Survey Finds Big Differences in Medium-Duty Fuel Mileage

November 29, 2010

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Differences in gas mileage among medium-duty trucks could translate into savings of more than $2,000 per truck per year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Medium-Duty Truck Engine and Transmission Customer Satisfaction Study released Monday.

The study finds that there is an annual cost difference of about 18 percent between those medium-duty truck engine makes with the highest gas mileage and those with the lowest. This may translate into an annual savings of approximately $2,100 per truck-or $36,000 annually for a fleet of 17 trucks (the average number of trucks per fleet).

Engine makes with the highest reported gas mileage average 9.3 mpg, compared with the industry average of 8.4 mpg. Further, more fuel-efficient trucks typically score 50 points higher in overall engine satisfaction (based on a 1,000-point scale) than trucks with lower fuel efficiency.

"Fleet owners that purchase a truck with an engine that is very fuel-efficient can have a real competitive advantage in terms of their overall operating costs," said Todd Markusic, senior director of the commercial vehicle practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "With some fleets exceeding 100 trucks, saving a few thousand dollars each year in fuel costs per truck may have a considerable impact on the bottom line. Although some fleet owners may be tempted to purchase gas engines given that gas prices are currently much lower than diesel, a more fuel-efficient diesel engine will ultimately lead to much lower annual fuel costs."

The study, now in its third year, measures customer perceptions of 2009 model-year Class 5, 6 and 7 gasoline and diesel engines. Eight factors are measured to determine overall engine satisfaction: engine reliability and dependability; accessibility to components for service/maintenance; engine warranty; control module (ECM); maintaining speeds on grades; average fuel economy; vibration at idle; and acceleration when fully loaded.

Hino Trucks engines rank highest in customer satisfaction for a third consecutive year with a score of 822 on a 1,000-point scale and perform particularly well in engine reliability and dependability, average fuel economy and accessibility to components for service/maintenance. Paccar (774) and General Motors (769) follow Hino in the rankings.

The study also finds the following:

* Among the 27 percent of customers who experience an engine problem, satisfaction is 126 points lower, on average, than among those who do not experience an engine problem (661 vs. 787, respectively).

* Ten percent of customers indicate experiencing a fuel problem. On average, satisfaction among these customers is 134 points lower than among those who do not experience a fuel problem.

* Customers indicate that engine problems caused one unscheduled period of downtime, on average, during the past 12 months. During these periods, downtime averages approximately two days.

The 2010 U.S. Medium-Duty Truck Engine and Transmission Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 1,255 primary maintainers of one-year-old conventional cab medium-duty trucks. The study was fielded between June and August 2010.

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