Little-Ton Sand & Supply has run its 2007-spec engines since last Spring. "We run about 50,000 miles a year, and we got most of those trucks in late Spring," says Littleton. "They probably have 35,000 or 40,000 miles on them."
The transition to the new technology has been rather transparent. "It is pretty seamless," says Littleton. "When it gets close to regeneration, sometimes the drivers will say it is sluggish. But once they regenerate, they are fine."
The only downside has been the additional cost of the DPF. "It was about $7,000 a truck," Littleton notes. "Nobody is happy with that."
Little-Ton Sand & Supply didn't have to make any changes to the specs of its trucks as a result of the new technology. "On the Sterling trucks, I didn't see any chassis changes - just where they mounted the exhaust," says Littleton. "The aftertreatment device fits up under the right-hand door. I guess you would have had a fuel tank there before, but we only run one tank anyway. You really can't tell the difference unless you look for it."
Littleton also can't see much difference in fuel economy. "There was nothing that would raise any alarm bells," he says. He notes there are so many variables that affect fuel mileage on a vocational truck. "A lot of it is the driver. A lot of it is the type of job that you are putting them on."
In this case, the driver has more of an impact on performance than the switch to the '07 engine technology. But Littleton has a plan in place to attract the best drivers in the midst of the driver shortage. All of the trucks are custom painted with the company colors, and are equipped with air conditioning and comfortable cabs. "My drivers like the comfortable, roomy cab," he notes.
Drivers are also well compensated. "We pay our drivers a little more than other companies, and our Sterling trucks are very nice and well maintained," Littleton states. "If you give drivers good wages and good, reliable equipment to work with, they will feel more appreciated and do a better job."
It's still early to report on long-term durability, but if these owners are any indication, the '07 emissions technology isn't anything to be feared. If you remain skeptical about the latest technology, remember that 2010 is just around the corner, with even more stringent emissions regulations to come.