Publication Detail

Determinants of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Truck Fleet Turnover


Research Report

Electric Vehicle Research Center, Sustainable Freight Research Program

Suggested Citation:
Kurani, Kenneth S., Marshall Miller, Claire Sugihara, Eli Alston-Stepnitz, Kevin A. Nesbitt (2023) Determinants of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Truck Fleet Turnover. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-23-61

This study solicited information directly from decision-makers in private businesses operating fleets of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in California via interviews and pre-interview questionnaires. Additional interviews were conducted with truck manufacturers, consultants and other businesses providing services to the freight industry including leasing and auction. All these data were collected in 2021 and 2022. Fleet decision-makers describe what determines when and why they acquire and retire trucks and how they use those determinants. The purpose is to better understand vehicle turnover in the trucking sector. Direct contact with fleet decision-makers was preceded by a review of relevant literatures. This review helped in the design of joint questionnaires and interview protocols. Results are presented as 1) a set of determinants (internal to each fleet, external, and linking internal to external), 2) a typology based on decision-making structure, adaptation, and complexity, 3) case studies of decision-making types, 4) generalizations across fleets, and 5) extension to fleet consideration of alternative fuel trucks. One overarching conclusion is drawn: fleet truck turnover behavior varies widely—our highest-level abstraction—the typology—results in more than 20 types among 90 fleets allowing that some types involve mixed types of structure, adaptation, and/or complexity. Few fleets’ decision-making conforms to the commonly assumed model of total cost of ownership; many more do not. This report describes the varied ways fleets acquire and retire trucks, extends this to understand how this variety is already affecting freight fleets’ consideration of alternative fuel trucks, and poses questions as to how understanding this variety aids in promotion of zero-emission trucks.