With Environmental Regulations Subject To Change, What Should You Consider When Replacing Your Rig?

If you're like many owner-operators (OOs), you're looking for cost savings whenever and wherever possible, especially when it comes to your rig. Political changes could mean that many of the proposed reforms designed to reduce the amount of pollution caused by semi trucks will no longer apply; these changes could have a significant impact on the price of new and used semi trucks. Read on to learn more about some of the proposed rollbacks to environmental reforms implemented under the previous administration, as well as how these could impact your decisionmaking process when it comes time to replace your current truck.

What environmental regulations are set to change under President Trump?

During President Trump's first few months in office, he announced some sweeping reforms to a number of environmental protective measures, including changes to the emissions guidelines promulgated under President Obama. These emissions guidelines, which were not set to be enforced for another few years, would have required truck manufacturers to ensure a minimum miles per gallon (MPG) rating for certain vehicles, as well as requiring manufacturers to take steps to curb the emissions and particulates emanating from these vehicles.

As with any regulatory changes, the implementation process can be expensive; and while vehicle manufacturers are always in the business of improving and streamlining their products, these proposed emissions regulations were likely to raise production costs for the foreseeable future. These higher production costs were likely to be passed onto the consumer in the form of higher prices for new semi trucks; and although used semi trucks were not required to abide by the same regulations, an increase in demand of these trucks as a way to avoid the higher price of new trucks was likely to drive up the cost of used vehicles as well.

However, the prospect of eliminating these regulations and returning to the status quo -- or even rolling back regulations further and making higher emissions levels permissible again -- could have a major impact on the supply of and demand for both new and used rigs. 

What should you consider when evaluating whether to purchase a new (or used) truck?

There are a few factors you'll want to consider when purchasing a new-to-you rig while these environmental regulations are still in flux. 

The first is your timeline. If you need to replace your rig sooner rather than later, you may want to consider a used truck first. In some cases, brand new trucks may have been built to exceed emissions specifications that no longer apply. By purchasing a used truck, you'll be able to capitalize not only on the depreciation that occurs whenever a new vehicle is driven off the lot, but also on the lack of eco-friendly features that tend to drive up the cost.

You'll also want to give some thought to exactly which features you need and which you can do without. For example, if you're responsible for your own fuel costs in a state with high fuel taxes, you may not want to write off newer vehicles so quickly; depending upon the improvement you could see in fuel economy with a newer vehicle, your rig may wind up paying for itself in the form of lower fillup costs within just the first few years. 

On the other hand, those in states with cheap and plentiful gas, or those who rarely (if ever) go on trips that require an overnight stay, are unlikely to gain much from the emissions modifications that prevent your truck from wasting fuel while idling. By paying only for the features you need and will use, you'll ensure you're getting the most for your money.  

Keep these things in mind when you look at used freightliner trucks.