Wayne Watkins doesn’t need to be told his used truck buying strategy is smart. The more than $18,000 savings his company realizes on its annual fuel bill already demonstrates it.
Earlier this year, Watkins Trucking bought three 2012 Peterbilt Model 389s with PACCAR MX-13 engines from the PACCAR Financial Used Truck Center in Spartanburg, S.C. As a result, the family-owned and operated flatbed transportation company saw an average 0.7 MPG improvement in fuel economy with each of the used trucks compared to the performance of the trucks they replaced.
“For every half mile (1/2 mile) per gallon improvement in fuel economy we can get, I figure our company drops its fuel bill by $6,000 based on the average price of $3.80 per gallon we pay and our average annual mileage of 125,000 miles,” the company president and CEO estimated. “With those three trucks, we’ve dropped our fuel expenses by more than $18,000.”
While several factors impact the fuel economy improvement, Watkins attributes a good portion of the savings to the PACCAR MX-13 engine.
Before he bought the used trucks, Watkins said he felt confident from prior experience that the PACCAR MX-13 engine would perform well. Watkins’ experience with the PACCAR MX-13 engine began about a year ago when his company bought new aerodynamic Peterbilt models equipped with the PACCAR MX-13 engine. The 13L engine is lighter weight than the 15L engine the company typically bought.
“So, in addition to the fuel economy improvement, they offered a significant weight savings,” he added. “We were so pleased with the performance of the PACCAR MX-13 engines, particularly with the better fuel economy they’ve offered us. So, we told the folks at the PACCAR Financial Used Truck Center we wanted used trucks with the right size wheelbase and PACCAR MX-13 engines. And they found them.”
The used trucks also had to have a little bling since he prefers to run trucks that look distinctive with chrome accessories and dual chrome exhaust stacks.
“We buy a mix of about 20 new and used trucks each year for our flatbed operation,” Watkins said. “Whenever we can find used trucks, preferably Peterbilt or Kenworth, around 300,000 miles with a 260-inch wheelbase or longer, we’ll buy them.”
Birmingham, Ala.-based Watkins Trucking Company hauls a variety of lengthy building products such as steel poles, cast-iron pipes, structural steel, bricks and lumber on flatbed and drop-deck trailers. Because of the length of those loads, Watkins needs trucks that can handle them. To move those loads, the company has a crew of 50 company drivers and 35 owner-operators, who operate their own trucks.
“The folks at the PACCAR Financial Used Truck Center are good at locating attractive trucks with the specifications we need and want,” Watkins said. “We were particularly happy they found some trucks with a 265-inch wheelbase, dual chrome exhaust pipes and the PACCAR MX-13 engine.
“When I have asked the drivers what they think of the PACCAR MX-13 engine, they say they’ve been able to maintain their speeds, getting similar performance to that of their 15-liter engines,” Watkins said. “I haven’t heard any complaints and I generally take that to mean they are happy with the MX engine.”
Driver satisfaction with the company’s equipment is important, he said. It helps in keeping the company’s driver turnover rate at an enviable 17 percent.
Watkins also likes the fact that the PACCAR MX-13 has a B10 design life of 1 million miles based on rigorous tests and the MX engine’s performance in Europe. PACCAR developed the PACCAR MX-13 engine for North America based on its experience building engines in Europe for more than 70 years. Plus, PACCAR engineers put the MX engine family through a rigorous series of laboratory and real-world testing before it was introduced in 2010. These tests included more than 125,000 hours of extreme-application, durability and thermal shock testing in 42 engine test cells.
Watkins said his company’s business is a good leading indicator for what’s happening in the national economy. “When homes are being built and sold, and construction projects are underway, our customers are moving more cast iron pipes, structural steel, brick and lumber and long rebar,” he added.
“Since our business reached bottom in 2009, we’ve seen it slowly increase over the last five years,” he added. “As a result, we can afford to lower our trade cycle from where it was, around 1 million miles, to 750,000 miles. Having trucks with engines with a B10 life rating gives us the option to increase our trade cycle if we need to respond to new economic conditions.
“Based on our experience with Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks, I also have faith that the trucks we buy with PACCAR MX-13 engines will keep their strong resale values when we’re ready to turn them in,” he said.