During the economic downturn, many small- and mid-sized companies were hesitant to increase their fleet sizes, especially when it came to adding large vehicles that may not be as fuel-friendly as smaller cars. However, with the economy showing signs of improvement, business owners are slowly becoming more willing to invest in additional capabilities and make use of more vehicles.
According to second quarter data from CK Commercial Vehicle Research (CKCVR), private fleets are feeling more confident about the future and rated their current situation as "good." Private fleets are now adding capacity at a more rapid pace than for-hire fleets. While half of private companies plan to add capacity in the next three months, only one-third of for-hire fleets said the same. This indicates private fleets are feeling more comfortable with the business environment and able to reinvest in their firms.
When adding capacity, businesses appear to be interested in medium- and heavy-duty trucks, despite lower fuel efficiency. The research showed that while most fleets have sufficient freight demand to meet capacity available, many said they need more equipment. The second quarter Fleet Sentiment Report Buying Index dropped only slightly to 97.5. Businesses that continue to invest in these vehicles may notice an additional need to use route planning software. The software helps reduce fuel expenses associated with additional vehicles for cartage/local, regional and long hauls.
The discrepancy between expansion plans among for-hire and private fleets could be attributed to the number of drivers available, according to Chris Kemmer, principal at CKCVR.
"Based on what our survey participants are telling us, for-hire fleets have a much, much larger problem with a shortage of drivers so adding capacity is hard," he said. "The private fleets in our advisory group generally don't have that issue. They have an incentive to add capacity to be sure their products get shipped and the ability to do so because they can fill the trucks with drivers."