"We're excited about this transition," said Scott Wolf, vice president of corporate services for Averitt. "We've heard nothing but good things from our drivers who work with the UltraShift. We feel confident about the benefits of converting our entire over-the-road fleet."
The UltraShift LST provides fully automatic "two-pedal" operation, and is capable of handling torque capacities up to 1,650 pounds-feet and loads up to 80,000 pounds gross combined weight (GCW).
As with many fleet operators, Averitt is challenged with finding qualified drivers during the current industry shortage. According to Steve Maxon, vice president of equipment for Averitt, recruiting new drivers often involves a steep learning curve and intensive training. This and rising fuel costs, he added, are two of the most critical issues facing Averitt Express and the trucking industry today.
"We anticipate significant savings due to the return on investment from a fuel and maintenance standpoint," said Maxon. "Additionally, we're beginning to see improvements in our driver retention and an influx of new drivers. The UltraShift is more fuel efficient over long distances and requires less maintenance, but the biggest return on our investment is driver satisfaction. Drivers like it, and we want to make their driving experience as safe and pleasant as possible."
"The UltraShift also has a higher resale value," continued Maxon. "The trend toward automated products will begin to catch on more in the industry in a few years. Right about the time we're ready to trade in our first units, there should be a good market for them."