A Proposition Between Drivers and Trucking Companies on APUs

For company drivers who want but can’t have in-truck climate control, here’s a proposition that we imagine can be made between them and the trucking companies for which they work — if the appropriate legal agreement can be put in place ahead of time.

With the right legal paperwork in place... here's a proposition that can help both truckers and trucking companies when it comes to in-truck climate control.It would be best, of course, if the company driver so desiring to undertake the enterprise can pay for his or her part up-front so as not to incur any debt.

Let’s look at some background before we delve into details that can be a win-win situation for both driver and company…

Background Info

We have already discussed how drivers can sleep better by adjusting their sleeping environment, such as through controlling the temperature.

Better sleep means that drivers will feel more rested and be better able to concentrate on doing their jobs.

We understand the desire to want to improve air quality and understand that lawmakers often pass anti idling laws to try to achieve this.

We also believe that anti-idling laws will come at a cost to some drivers’ health if they have to stay in hot trucks in the summer and cold trucks in the winter.

We have also covered the huge costs associated with idling a truck.

Simply multiply the idling rate (usually around 1 gallon per hour) by the cost of diesel used during every rest break to find just the fuel costs (not to mention wear and tear on the engine) associated with this form of climate control and electrification.

Profit vs. Comfort

An auxiliary power unit or APU mounted on a commercial motor vehicle.The owners and stockholders of trucking companies may, unfortunately, be looking at profit instead of making sure that the drivers who drive for them are comfortable during their rest breaks.

For this reason, they may decide not to install auxiliary power units (APUs) on their trucks — even though the savings in fuel that would ordinarily be spent on idling could more than pay for the units in about a year.

We have already reviewed a product that provides in-truck air conditioning only (no electrification), but falls short because it is battery-powered.

When the charge in those batteries is too low, the air conditioner no longer works.

For this reason, we think it would be best to have a climate control and electrification system — an auxiliary power unit (APU) — that is diesel-powered.

How Can a Trucker Win?

So how can a trucker come out on top with all of these negatives pressing in?

If the trucking company will not buy an APU for each of their trucks, here is a proposition that truck drivers can make (which we strongly recommend being drafted and reviewed by a qualified attorney):

  • The driver buys the APU (whether outright or over time) and pays for any associated costs of installing and repairing the APU on the company truck assigned to him/her.
  • The unit belongs to the driver and will move from truck-to-truck with the driver in whatever truck the company puts him/her. So as not to be burdensome to the driver regarding moving the APU from truck to truck, the driver must be allowed to stay in a truck for a period of time mutually agreeable to both driver and company.
  • The company pays for any and all fuel that is used by the APU during the driver’s non-driving hours (possibly at a rate of 0.1 gallon per hour to heat and 0.3 gallon per hour to cool). The driver must be able to use his/her APU whenever he/she is not driving, not just during his/her mandatory sleep break.
  • The driver and company must agree on the theoretical fuel usage for idling based on heating or cooling, possibly having to depend on the driver’s word regarding which form of climate control (and hence which rate of fuel consumption) is used each day. Warm/hot and cool/cold temperatures will vary based on location. For example, it may be warm enough in Florida to have to keep a truck cool 9 months out of the year, but cool enough in northern Canada to have to keep a truck warm for 9 months out of the year. If the APU can calculate and display the amount of time it runs and fuel it uses each day, so much the better.
  • Once a legal agreement is entered into, the company cannot put the driver into a truck that is already equipped with an APU so that the driver will be stuck with the cost of an APU that he/she cannot use; however, if it is agreeable to both parties, the company can buy the APU from the driver at a pro-rated price (based on age and usage).
  • If the driver goes to work for another company, depending on the arrangement between the driver and company, the company has the option to buy the APU from the driver at a pro-rated price (based on age and usage).
  • If the company buys the APU from the driver, all payment by the trucking company for half the savings on fuel usage stops and the driver is no longer responsible for paying for installation and repair of the unit.
  • The company will keep the driver informed as to the per-gallon price of fuel used in the truck so that exact calculations can be made regarding how much money is saved on climate control over idling. The price of fuel will be reported on the basis agreeable to both driver and company. Since sending a price once a day may be too much work, it may work better to send a price once a week (averaged).
  • All pertinent numbers will be put into a spreadsheet for calculation similar to what is shown in the table below. The company will pay the driver weekly for half of the savings in fuel that would have been spent on climate control by idling versus what was actually used.

Savings From APU Usage

Part of the proposition that a driver could make to his trucking company should include documentation about proposed cost savings, such as may be done in spreadsheet form similar to what is shown here:

Date Sleep Break Time (hh:mm) Sleep Break Time (fraction) Fuel Usage Difference in Gallons per Hour (Idling – APU) Sleep Break Time x Fuel Usage Difference (gallons) Cost of Diesel per gallon Cost saved during Sleep Break Half of Savings Cumulative Savings
Standard 9:00 9 to cool: 1-0.3=0.7
to warm: 1-0.1=0.9
7.2 $5.00 $36.00 $18.00 $18.00
1/1/2011 9:00 9 0.9 8.1 $5.00 $40.50 $20.25 $20.25
1/2/2011 9:00 9 0.9 8.1 $5.00 $40.50 $20.25 $40.50
1/3/2011 9:00 9 0.9 8.1 $5.00 $40.50 $20.25 $60.75
1/4/2011 9:00 9 0.9 8.1 $5.00 $40.50 $20.25 $81.00
1/5/2011 9:00 9 0.9 8.1 $5.00 $40.50 $20.25 $101.25
1/6/2011 9:00 9 0.9 8.1 $5.00 $40.50 $20.25 $121.50
1/7/2011 9:00 9 0.9 8.1 $5.00 $40.50 $20.25 $141.75

Win-Win Situation!

This proposition is a win-win situation because

  • the trucking company does not have to foot the up-front cost of buying an APU, but still saves money by the driver not having to idle the truck (and also invests in the comfort of the driver, thus preventing all sorts of potential problems due to health-related issues brought on from resting in a truck that is too hot or too cold); and
  • the driver will be able to enjoy climate control and electrification during every non-driving period while receiving some payment toward the APU’s cost.

To further assist with your proposition, please note that it is not difficult to set up a spreadsheet based on the table above to calculate the cost of the fuel that the company will save through having an APU on the truck.

In our calculation, we left the number of sleeping hours at 9 each night, assuming

  • half a year of running the APU for cooling,
  • the other half of the year for warming, and
  • the cost of diesel at $5.00 per gallon.

We determined that the Cumulative Savings over the course of one year was $6,567.75.

This amount (according to our proposition) goes both to the company and the driver.

If the cost of an APU plus installation is $10,000, the driver would have over 65% of the unit paid for in a year.

By mid-July the following year, the unit should be paid for in just the fuel savings alone.

What a proposition!

The Alternative to This Proposition

An auxiliary power unit or APU.However, if a trucking company is

  • unwilling for drivers to idle to stay cool in warm/hot weather or stay warm in cool/cold weather,
  • unwilling to pay for any idling alternative, and
  • refuses to pay even half the costs of fuel savings after a driver has purchased an APU for use on the company truck assigned to him/her,

the driver has a decision to make.

Is he/she willing to foot the entire bill for having an APU on his/her company truck in order to stay comfortable?

Is he/she so willing to stay with a company that refuses to invest in some basic comfort that can only stand to benefit them both in the long run?

We offer this proposition to help both drivers stay comfortable and trucking companies to be “humane” to their drivers.

Please note that according to the spreadsheet calculations we made for this proposition, the driver could have the APU paid for with just the reimbursement for half the savings of fuel in about 1.5 years or less.

truck drivers money saving tip iconMoney saving tip: This proposition is suitable for drivers who want climate control but whose trucking companies don’t want to pay for an APU outright — while allowing both parties to split the cost of the savings on fuel as opposed to idling.

The trucking company doesn’t have to fork out the cost of the APU but the driver gets to earn a little toward his own investment in his health and well-being.

It is hopeful that over time, all OTR trucking companies who have hired drivers that stay away from home overnight will install an APU on each truck, so that all of their drivers can enjoy the same comfort that internal employees enjoy.

In the meantime, consider this proposition.

To make sure that you are legally protected and have any legal agreement reviewed by an attorney.

As far as we know, there is no template to turn the proposition we have described on this page into a legal agreement or contract.

All we have are ideas that we feel need to be addressed in the agreement.\

More tenets may need to be added, modified or deleted based on your own specific circumstance.

We suggest that you obtain good quality legal advice, preferably for as low a cost as you can get.

Legal service plans may be the way to obtain help on any legal document, whether this proposition or something else.

Return from A Proposition Between Drivers and Trucking Companies on APUs to our Truck Operations page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.