Truckload Operator Heartland Upgrades Fleet

Truckload Operator Heartland Upgrades Fleet

Truckload carrier Heartland Express is purchasing an undisclosed number of 2010-model-year Class 8 tractors from Navistar, replacing older vehicles in its fleet.

The North Liberty, Iowa, carrier signed an agreement making Navistar its exclusive Class 8 tractor provider. The agreement follows a major tractor purchase last year.

“This agreement will ensure that we have the most complete fleet of fuel-efficient and driver-friendly trucks in the industry,” said Russell Gerdin, chairman and CEO.

The purchase comes amid signs that trucking companies are starting to order new equipment after something of a moratorium on fleet improvement and expansion during the downturn. 

Net orders for heavy-duty trucks shot up 91 percent in April, as fleets began placing orders for trucks compliant with 2010 federal emissions rules, ACT Research said.

Before the latest purchase, Heartland’s tractors on average were 1.6 years old. Its equipment age will be driven much lower by the purchase, the company said.

“The company continues to see the operating benefits of the tractors acquired in 2008 and 2009 compared to earlier models through idle controls and fuel efficiency,” Heartland said in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At Heartland, fuel spending increased 20 percent from a year ago in the first quarter. The company reduced its fuel purchases by 8.1 percent, or 1 million gallons of diesel.

Heartland’s order is the latest in a series of purchases by large truck operators that signal confidence in truck maker’s latest emissions controls and a stronger freight market.

--Contact William B. Cassidy at
wcassidy@joc.com.