Pickup truck survey shows increased costs but decreased maintenance


Pickup truck survey shows increased costs but decreased maintenance

Source: FleetAnswers Utility companies rely heavily on pickup trucks to get their work done, including both 4x2 and 4x4 options. Utilimarc has surveyed 40 utility clients about the costs and usage of their 1/2 ton pickup trucks. Understanding these results can help utility companies make informed decisions about future budgeting and purchase choices.

Costs associated with Pickup Trucks

One of the first factors considered in the survey was the cost of purchasing and using pickup trucks in the fleet. From 2006 to 2013, purchase price for 4x2 pickup trucks increased from $18,399 to $25,275, a 37 percent increase. For 4x4 pickup trucks the increase was slightly smaller at 33 percent, but the purchase price, going from $24,487 in 2006 to $33,719 in 2013, was significantly higher.

Why did these costs increase? New technology in vehicles combined with inflation are likely the causes. Utility companies looking to save on the purchase price may consider purchasing used vehicles for a discounted price.

Operating costs, excluding the cost of fuel, were also discussed in the survey. The operating costs were looked at based on age of the vehicle. In the first year, both types of trucks cost $0.10 per mile to operate. Over 10 years of use, the cost rose to $0.24 for 4x4 and $0.25 for 4x2 trucks.

This brings to light an interesting discussion point in determining what vehicles to buy and which vehicles to replace. While older vehicles will cost less to purchase, they will cost more to run and maintain. Fleets must determine how much mileage they intend to put on the vehicles in order to strike a balance between maintenance costs and purchase cost.

Interestingly, while the maintenance costs have increased, the average number of days between on-demand repairs has decreased. Between 2009 and 2013, both types of trucks saw an improvement in the number of days between unscheduled repairs for their vehicles. This may point to better-made trucks or better maintenance routines.

Average age and mileage

The survey also looked at the average mileage per year and the average age of the vehicles in the fleets surveyed. This information can help those making purchase decisions know which vehicles would be the best value.

According to the survey, 4x2 trucks in 2006 were driven an average of 13,181 miles per year, compared to 11,693 in 2013. For 4x4 trucks, the decrease was less, with a 16,312 average in 2006 compared to a 15,203 average in 2013. Historically, no matter what year, the 4x4 trucks saw more mileage each year.

So just how old are the vehicles in the average fleet? This number is on the increase for both types of trucks. In 2013, the average age of 4x2 vehicles was 6.5 years, with a 5.75 average for 4x4 trucks. This is an increase of 1.35 years for 4x2 trucks and 0.75 for 4x4 trucks since 2009. This data shows that today's fleets are keeping their trucks in service longer, in spite of the more expensive maintenance costs associated with older vehicles.

This data can help the fleet manager find and purchase the best possible trucks for the modern utility fleet. Finding the balance between purchase cost and cost of maintenance is never easy, but with the right data it becomes just a little bit simpler.

Download the 1/2 Ton Pickup Trucks Report