LOUISVILLE, KY. While many industry suppliers have been focused on engine emissions in recent years, they need to recognize that “regulations have impacted the trucking industry’s future dramatically,” according to Daniel Ustian, chairman, president & CEO of Navistar International Corp. Changes in hours of service, CSA’s increased safety compliance burden, electronic onboard recorder requirements are all pushing lower asset utilization and higher operating costs for truck fleets, he told members of the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Assn. (HDMA).

The price of a Class 8 truck is up $34,000 since 2001, and $20,000 since 2006, Ustian pointed out. The cost per mile for a truckload fleet has risen from $1/mi. in 2000 to around $1.50/mi. today, he said. “And as an industry, trucking is paying $26 billion a year in taxes,” he added, pointing out that there have been 5,000 trucking company failures since the third quarter of 2008.

“We have to help our customers keep their trucks on the road, help them concentrate on hauling freight,” Ustian told HDMA members. For equipment suppliers, that means developing affordable technology and systems that make trucks and drivers more efficient. “With regulations like CSA and new HOS, the driver’s time is more important than ever,” he said.

“There’s no question about it – things are looking good” in terms of the recovering economy and truck sales, Ustian said. “But we still need to prepare for real difficulties ahead for our customers, to make sure they get practical regulation and cost-effective technology.”