Auxiliary Power Units, a Great Tool for Driver Retention
by Chris Courts | May 13, 2016
With the shortage of truck drivers and high levels of driver turnover, fleet owners are constantly seeking out ways to create driver loyalty. Obviously, offering above average pay per mile and great benefits is important, but so is providing drivers with a comfortable and dependable vehicle with creature comforts, such as an Auxiliary Power Unit, or APU.
Trucks outfitted with an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) offer numerous benefits:
- Reduced engine wear
- Fuel savings
- Reduced emissions
- Compliance with no idle laws
- Driver retention – keeps driver comfortable during rest periods
- High return on investment
APUs are available as a factory-installed option (e.g. Navistar, Freightliner, Mack, and Volvo) or can be added after purchase. Some APUs run on diesel and some are powered by electricity, which requires shore power.
The cost of an APU is in the $8,000 – $10,000 range, but the return on investment begins immediately. In addition to the real cost savings from reducing engine wear and fuel consumption, the boost in driver satisfaction reduces turnover. With the cost to recruit, hire, and train a truck driver averaging somewhere around $10,000, fleet owners are focused on driver satisfaction more than ever.
APUs, a great alternative to idling
Interestingly, the term “idling” is a little misleading. The true definition of “idling” refers to a machine or factory that is not active or isn’t in use. But when diesel truck engines idle, they’re both active and in use even though the truck is not moving.
APUs can be a great alternative to idling because they help drivers comply with no idling laws and they combat the negative effects of idling, like reducing engine wear, fuel consumption, and emissions. No idling laws seek to eliminate noise and reduce emissions, and carry fines and penalties that average in the $50-$500 range, but can be up to $25,000 and one-year in prison! Fines not only affect truck drivers, but in some cases property owners can also be fined for allowing excessive idling on their property.
With diesel fuel prices averaging around $2.00 per gallon, there’s not as much emphasis on APUs, but diesel prices have already started to rise and will likely continue to rise. The benefits of APU use extend far beyond just diesel fuel savings and are another way for small fleets to level the playing field as compared to larger fleets.
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