Image Credit: MISSING

Image Credit: MISSING

Auxiliary power units provide efficiencies, driver comfort and dollars to fleets’ bottom lines

They may come in a relatively small box, but auxiliary power units (APUs) make a big impact on fleets and owner operators alike. From the beginning, APUs were designed to provide auxiliary power that eliminates unnecessary tractor engine idling at rest stops or during deliveries. This decreases fuel consumption while keeping drivers comfortable. But that just scratches the surface of the value APUs have to offer. Indeed, APUs have become a must-have investment throughout the industry.

Let’s look at the top five reasons APUs can help improve fleet profitability.

1. Fuel Savings

Topping the list has always been fuel savings. APUs consume considerably less fuel per hour than an idling tractor engine. How much less? Take for example Thermo King’s diesel TriPac® APU. It consumes approximately 75 percent less fuel per hour than idling a tractor engine. That equates to about 2,500 gallons of fuel per year, or 10,000 gallons over the typical length of tractor ownership. That is a significant savings for owner-operators alone but for fleets running multiple tractors, the savings add up quickly. Plus, electric APU options eliminate fuel entirely for even more savings.

2. Reduced Engine Maintenance

Due to less tractor engine run time, APUs reduce engine wear and as a result, the frequency of maintenance. This is not only keeping money in owners’ pockets due to less service expenses but also increasing tractor uptime.   

3. Driver Comfort

With tractors on the roads more, fleets are always looking for ways to provide comfort and incentives that attract quality drivers in a competitive environment. APUs deliver in-cab climate control and run the amenities that keep drivers comfortable, nourished, rested, connected, and efficient during long road trips. This includes items like microwaves to cook healthier meals, computers to communicate with colleagues and family. Savvy fleet owners understand that these are all benefits that make life just a bit easier for drivers while on the road, allowing them to concentrate on the task at hand and providing incentives to stay the course.

4. Optimized Performance

Linked to reduced fuel savings, APUs have become a crucial component to running efficiently and meeting the ever-changing and growing environmental laws and regulations. For starters, less fuel burned means less greenhouse gas emissions. This helps customers meet sustainability goals and rigorous Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations. Thermo King’s 3rd generation TriPac APU aftertreatment device (ATD) model option provides a new passive solution to further reduce emissions and is 50-state compliant. Add in solar panels to supplement APU power, and fleets can now potentially reduce fossil fuel emissions even more. Finally, choose telematics to maximize the way you utilize and maintain your APU. Thermo King’s latest model is the first APU to offer TracKing® telematics. This technology allows fleets to calculate and share their climate contributions with customers, drivers, insurance providers, and communities to further highlight the value and performance an APU offers our industry. It also maximizes performance by providing real-time alarms and maintenance reminders and brings more visibility to run time hours and cabin temperatures. Additionally, it helps automate previously tedious tasks such as fuel tax reporting.

5. Tractor Resale

The operational expenses saved while using an APU are exponential with initial investment of the unit being recouped on average within the first year of purchase. But the value continues through the resale of the tractor. Whether selling at an auction, to a dealer or on your own, tractors with APUs will generally sell for more and sell faster due to the reduced engine hours and wear.

From start to finish, APUs can contribute to a fleets overall bottom line and should not be overlooked by fleet managers and tractor owners. They are a small package with a big punch. And with many APU options available today, including electric units that feature dependable run times, fleets are sure to find the right solution for their needs.


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Charlene Vance is the Director of Product Management for auxiliary power units (APU), a product line within Trane Technologies’ Thermo King Americas business.