This collaborative study between the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) examines the process of how the features of Class 7 and 8 tractor trucks are specified for purchase in Canada and the United States. Over two months in early 2018, the authors conducted 15 interviews with trucking fleets of various types and sizes. Thirteen of the fleets are based in Canada, of which seven are small fleets with fewer than five trucks or owner-operators. Two carriers are based in the United States. The eight larger fleets varied widely in terms of size, with truck ownership ranging from 100 to 2,000 trucks. All of the company representatives and owner-operators interviewed had direct involvement and decision-making responsibilities in truck specification.
The analysis describes the two most common pathways for specifying tractor trucks in Canada and the United States, as well as characteristics of the specification process that the authors have gleaned from interactions with thousands of fleets, manufacturers, and suppliers in their combined 30-plus years of experience in the field. The second part of the paper synthesizes the findings from interviews with fleet representatives in four major topic areas: 1) trusted sources of information during the specification process, 2) specifying fuel-saving technologies and packages, 3) differences in the specification process in Canada and the United States, and 4) macro forces in the trucking industry, including driver shortages and turnover as well as emerging trends toward electrification and automation.