“In the challenging marketplace environment we’re in, the used truck market in general is a nice place to be,” he says. “Clearly, used trucks are significantly less expensive than a new vehicle. Our units, being solely owned and maintained by Ryder, generally speaking, have a better reliability, and so you can get in for less than a new vehicle. I won’t say it’s like having a new vehicle, but they do run very well because of our rigorous maintenance standards.”
When searching for a quality source of used vehicles, Nierenberg says procurement and maintenance are critically important.
“We have a procurement group whose task is building, with the OEMs, a quality vehicle that is reliable, so that is step one,” he says. “Then, throughout the life cycle of the vehicle, it’s maintained by our 6,000-plus technicians, (using) all of the state-of-the-art diagnostic technologies. We follow a very key preventative maintenance program, and then when it’s time to sell the vehicle to re-market it, we include a copy of all of our maintenance records to our customers and because of those stringent standards, we feel we do deliver a high-quality vehicle, and it’s an excellent value to our customers.”
All Ryder used vehicles must pass a multi-point inspection before they are accepted into a retail center, and are backed by a 30-day guarantee, though Ryder also offers an extended warranty program for up to a year. Nierenberg says one reason the company is so confident in its used vehicles is the quality of their replacement parts.
“All used vehicles, throughout their lives, have had parts replaced as they wear out throughout their original lives,” he says. “We only use OEM-approved parts; we don’t use aftermarket parts, so it’s not only the quality of the engine, it’s the parts that are in it and the key components.”
Nierenberg says offering a reliable, affordable used truck is exactly what many fleets need right now, and Ryder is happy to provide whatever they ask for.
“Buying a used vehicle is significantly less expensive than buying a new vehicle, and in these challenging times, to be a little bit less risk averse, it might make sense to get in there with a used vehicle and spend a little bit less money,” he says. “You’re really able to get into a quality vehicle to run your business at a fair price.”
Eugene Clark, Eaton aftermarket product manager for medium and heavy-duty transmissions, says while he can’t point to specific data that shows the slow economy is driving more fleets to buy used trucks and remanufactured parts in the past few months, he says they might be holding some of their new trucks out of service because of the slow economy; focusing instead on maintaining what they have for as long as possible. He says demand for remanufactured parts reached a market high in 2006 and has remained there ever since.
Clark says the advantages of remanufactured parts for fleets are availability and cost. Eaton Fuller offers remanufactured heavy and medium duty transmissions, clutches and a range of electronic transmission control parts, available at any OEM dealership or OEM-sponsored distribution point.
“With factory original quality, assembly and parts, remanufactured components should work as well as the original equipment,” Clark says.
While it might be tempting to save a bit of money these days with “non-genuine” parts, Clark says that could just be adding to a bad situation. He says it’s best to get the parts you know will work.
“The risk with ‘non-genuine’ components is the variability of the workmanship from vendor to vendor,” he says. “Genuine products have the same assembly line process we use in the original equipment, and technicians will use the same skills for troubleshooting and maintenance as the new product.”
Got any idea when the economy or the trucking industry in general is going to bounce back? Grab a crystal ball and get in line. Until then, most fleet managers are taking a pragmatic approach and getting by as best they can until relief (hopefully) arrives.
Finding a consistent source of used trucks and remanufactured parts is one way to keep capital costs down while not overloading your technicians, and you might even end up shifting your business model if you find enough success.
Comprehensive Coverage up to 36 Months or 1.6 million kilometers.
Sanchez took an IT position at Ryder 21 years ago and worked his way up to top management of the Fortune 500 company.