The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created urgent and new demands on global supply chains, health care and emergency services. “At this time of national emergency, our nation’s ability to respond effectively depends on proven, available and reliable equipment – the trucks and technologies that are here today and can meet growing demands in every state, county and city around the country, 24/7. At the forefront of fulfilling these demands is a well-established and proven broad range of diesel technology in the nation’s commercial truck fleet and emergency response sector,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, a not-for-profit educational organization representing manufacturers of diesel engines and vehicles, key suppliers, and fuel producers.
“When it comes to delivering essential medical supplies and groceries to every community, the trucking industry depends on diesel and is stepping up and responding. Seventy-five percent of all commercial vehicles that deliver these supplies are powered by diesel technology and 97 percent of the larger Class 8 tractor-trailer size trucks are diesel-powered. Diesel has long been the technology of choice because of its unique combination of power density, energy efficiency, durability, reliability, maintainability and most recently, near zero emissions.
“As most Americans are now directed to stay at home and limit social interactions, online shopping orders have surged creating additional demands on trucking. One retailer noted a 160 percent spike in online orders from consumers looking for groceries and household items.
“To make sure that grocery store shelves are stocked with essential goods, and hospitals and health centers have necessary medical and personal protective equipment, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently lifted the hours truck drivers may be on the road to deliver critical supplies. This announcement marks the first time these primary rules governing hours of service have been lifted since they were implemented in 1938.
“We are fortunate that U.S. oil refiners and distributors continue to produce and deliver ample supplies of diesel fuel and state and local leaders ensure that first responders and the nation’s motor carriers will have access to diesel fuel at all times. Diesel is readily available at all truck stops and travel centers, as well as half to two-thirds of all retail fuel locations. Fuel retailers and distributors are working with federal, state and local emergency managers to guarantee access to fuel. Many states and regions with shelter-in-place orders have identified fuel retailers and fuel distributors as essential to response and recovery efforts.
“According to the most recent reports from the Energy Information Administration, diesel fuel supplies are adequate across the country with prices lower than a year ago and trending downward. U.S. diesel fuel producers have access to newfound sources of crude oil in the U.S. and imported crude supplies. U.S. sources of crude oil are expected to grow from 12.2 million barrels per day in 2019 to almost 13 million barrels by the end of 2020.
“Ensuring continued operation of the nation’s trucking fleet requires a widespread national network of truck stops, fueling stations and service facilities in just about every community, and fortunately that network is well established, in place and functioning today.
“Beyond the nation’s trucking industry, diesel power serves the health care system by being deployed in many ambulances while hospitals, outpatient care centers and others utilize emergency backup generators that provide mission critical power. Diesel is one of the only technologies that can carry a full electrical load within ten seconds of a power outage providing uninterrupted power to those that rely on lifesaving equipment such as ventilators.
“The highly portable nature of diesel technology with self-contained fuel supplies also means that it can be rapidly deployed to field settings, triage areas or surge-built hospitals in the form of mobile generators, light towers and other supporting equipment. These units are available in a range of sizes for any application, with widespread availability of these units across the country at equipment dealers and rental centers, as well as federal, state and local government disaster preparedness inventories.
“Beyond our deep gratitude to our nation’s health care workers and first responders, our thanks also needs to go out to the trucking industry – the drivers, service technicians and fuel providers as well as equipment dealers and others stepping up to respond to this national emergency. They are both behind the scenes and on the frontlines in ultimately determining the effectiveness of our nation’s response.”