Why truck leasing is an option for upgrading technology

While truck leasing and buying each have benefits, the lease versus buy isn’t an either/or type of decision for all fleets. Both options can be used as tools to maximize a company’s operations and better meet their customers’ needs.

On the plus side for leasing is that the shorter trade cycles associated with leases mean fleets are able to upgrade to newer technology – which is coming to market much more quickly – sooner than they might if they owned their vehicles.

Another benefit to leasing is that it allows fleets the opportunity, at a lower risk and lower cost, to try emerging technologies which might help lower fuel and maintenance costs.

Take automated transmissions, by way of example. Darin McClure, leasing account manager for Maudlin Idealease, Jacksonville, FL, says leasing is a good way to move his customers from manual transmissions, which he considers to be “old school” to automated transmissions.

“Most of our customers, of course, are reluctant to move away from what they are accustomed to using, and an automated transmission does feel weird if you are not familiar with it,” he explains. “So I ask them to ride along with me and keep their eyes closed. When they do this while the transmission shifts through the gears, they notice that the truck is shifting precisely at the sweet spot of the engine’s performance.”

Maudlin Idealease is affiliated with Maudlin International Trucks, which operates five truck dealerships in Central and Northeast Florida (www.maudlininternational.com). It is a part of a larger International Truck and Engine Corporation (www.internationaltrucks.com). Idealease is a commercial truck lease and rental company serving North America (www.idealease.com).

The majority of McClure’s medium duty leases are with customers that are primarily in the food and beverage, auto parts and industrial supply businesses.


By their very, design automated transmissions deliver fuel-efficiency improvements partly because they transmit power through metal gears and not hydraulic torque converters. There is also lower long-term ownership costs owing to lower installation cost, reduced weight, maintenance cost savings and extended component life.

What’s more, automated transmissions shift better and choose gears more wisely than inexperienced or inept drivers, further supporting more economical driving. Plus, gears shift automatically or according to driver demand.

McClure claims his customers will see up to two miles per gallon fuel consumption improvements by opting for the Eaton UltraShift Highway Value (HV) – a fully automated transmission system for Class 6 and 7 vehicles – instead of manuals or automatics in his inventory of International straight trucks. He also cites “zero service for the life of the lease” as another factor that his customers find just as attractive as the gains at the fuel pump.


The UltraShift HV has no scheduled maintenance for 500,000 miles, McClure notes. That results in more vehicle uptime and less waste in discarded filters and used oil, which means more money for a company’s bottom line.

“Most of my medium duty fleet customers are running their trucks for about 50,000 miles a year,” says McClure. “So if they are on a five- or six-year lease, the transmissions will never need a service interval for the entire term of the lease.”

Automated transmissions are also reliable, he says, citing a food distribution customer that converted its entire fleet to automation a few years ago. “They now have 75,000 to 125,000 miles of road service and we have had zero failures.”


One of the nice things about an automated transmission is the two-pedal design that eliminates manual shifting. This allows the vehicle operator to keep both hands on the wheel for “safer, less stressful vehicle operation,” McClure observes.

A key feature of the UltraShift HV is the Hill-Assist, he adds, Hill-Assist, which automatically minimizes roll back and roll forward on up to 10-percent grades while the operator makes the transition from the brake pedal to the accelerator.

Another thing about leasing, at least from Maudlin Idealease, is that McClure is the single point of contact for all of his customers. When there is an issue, he says he takes care of it immediately so the customer doesn’t have to wait for answers or approvals.