A few months ago, we looked at the price difference in the retail market for aerodynamic vs. traditionally-styled sleeper tractors. We found that owner-operator trucks were still commanding a premium despite the importance of fuel economy.
That trend holds true through the current period. The graphs below trace average selling price, average mileage, and average age of the two types of trucks. As the graphs suggest, the typical owner-operator truck found on a dealer’s lot is slightly older with higher mileage than its aerodynamic counterpart. Despite this, for 2012 to date, traditionally-styled sleeper tractors have averaged over $4000 more than aerodynamic trucks after adjusting for specs. The price decline from September, 2011 to March, 2012 is due to corresponding increases in average mileage and age. That trend reversed for April.
It is likely that the increased versatility of a traditionally-styled truck (removable sleeper, set-forward axle, etc.) increases its appeal to potential buyers in the used market. There is also a much smaller supply of these trucks available at any given time (for reference, our database of owner-operator sleeper tractors is only 12% the size of our aerodynamic database). Condition may also be a factor.
If owner-operator trucks have not given back any of their price premium at this point, we do not expect them to going forward. Buyers are under no illusions about the future price of fuel, so current values have those assumptions priced in.