GREEN BAY, WI – Shifting gears will soon be a thing of the past for Schneider.
In an attempt to attract younger drivers, and make it easier for potential employees to consider a job in trucking, the company is more than half-way to its goal of creating an entire fleet made up of automatic transmission trucks.
With an expected driver shortage of more than 33,000 industry-wide by 2020, the company says it’s hoping the automatic trucks will make it easier for younger and less-experienced drivers, who may not have the skills to operate a manual transmission truck, to join the fleet.
Rob Reich, Schneider’s vice president of equipment, says the company has been testing various models of automatic transmission tractors since 2007, adding a level of experience that made the decision to move to the more fuel-efficient, user-friendly vehicles easier in 2015.
“Ever since then, we have been very impressed with the dependability of these tractors. In fact, we’ve had fewer maintenance issues with them than we’ve seen with the manual transmission tractors, which is not what we expected. We’re extremely pleased with the performance of these vehicles – and more importantly, so are drivers,” he said.
Experienced drivers also enjoying the change include Jim Czachor, a longtime Schneider driver, who was a part of the pilot that initially tested the new tractors for the company.
“At first, I was wondering what I got myself into, so I asked my dispatcher ‘if I absolutely can’t stand this, can I have my 10-speed manual back?’” said Czachor. “Well, long story short, there’s no way I’d ever go back to a manual transmission.”
The company hopes to have the fleet fully transitioned to automatic vehicles by 2019.