Truckmakers Shifting with Aging Driver Workforce


An article in Freightwaves by Sandeep Kar illustrates a ‘golden age’ for truck drivers could be emerging as truck makers boost ‘in the cab’ offerings to attract and retain an aging workforce in the midst of a driver shortage.  

Truck manufacturers are always seeking to influence truck buyers’ purchasing decisions and have historically used several factors to that effect. While some have differentiated their product from their competitors by using engine-related features (these original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, have typically used fuel efficiency of their engines as a key attribute), others have either used their trucks’ safety features or the comfort and convenience of their design to influence owner-operators and fleet managers to choose their branded trucks. 

For the past few decades, these features were the core of product differentiation. But around the mid-2000s, the trucking industry started experiencing a major business model transformation – truck-as-a-service became more prevalent than truck-as-a-product – the business model that had governed product planning for nearly a century. And with that, most truck manufacturers started using total cost of ownership (TCO) as the most effective and important differentiating factor. 

Advanced powertrain, chassis, safety and telematics technologies played a major role in reducing fuel costs and downtime. This, in turn, helped increase the safety, durability and reliability of trucks, as well as reduce their TCO. Nonetheless, the focus for truck designers and engineers was still largely on the truck and less on the driver. 

Then something started to change around 2010 – driver costs started overtaking fuel cost as the largest component of a heavy-duty truck’s TCO. This was driven by the exacerbation of the qualified truck driver shortage, the graying of the truck driver population and a lack of young people choosing trucking as a profession.

This profound shift coincided with the rising importance of yet another business model transformation. This time, it went from truck-as-a-service to truck-as-a-solution in order to firmly establish drivers as the focal point in the commercial vehicle product planning. 

Full article here.

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