Headline photo is from Back to the Oldskool/Jurian van der Hart
Old-school trucks are more popular than ever. Every year, more and more truck festivals are held, where (mostly) older truck models are put on display. When asked, many drivers admit that they are more attracted by the older models than the newer ones. But are older trucks still profitable? To find out, we offer a few pointers in this blog post.
A child’s dream
What driver hasn’t dreamed of one day driving a big Scania V8 or a Volvo FH16? Every brand has its flagship models. How about a 680hp MAN V8 or a DAF with a 530hp Cummins engine? For most salaried drivers, these flagship models are an unattainable utopia and often remain a childhood dream. A few did get such a model from their employer, but this often meant spending many weekends away from home.
Drivers who choose to remain contractors have the choice of the make and type of truck they use on a daily basis. With this group of drivers (also known as self-employed), you often see them fulfilling their childhood dream. Entrepreneurship can involve more risks, but the number of drivers who work as self-employed drivers is growing all the time. The main reason given is the increased freedom.
New or used?
What’s your choice when buying a truck: new or used? If you need a specific truck quickly, a second-hand model may be the solution. Another reason to opt for a used model is that you have full confidence in its proven technology. At TrucksNL, you’ll find a wide range of new and used trucks. Truck manufacturers are constantly updating new models with new technology. The past has shown that this doesn’t always work well. That’s why new models are often referred to as “start-up problems”. Always wanting to be at the cutting edge of the latest technology can lead to downtime and a lot of frustration.
The old school
There’s a growing group of fanatics who are adept at what’s known as “old school trucking”. But what exactly does this mean, and can it only be done with older trucks? So-called ‘old school’ is a style in which trucks are built from the 70s and 80s onwards. A good example is the luggage rack on the roof of a truck. Back then, many drivers still drove with open containers, and when the cargo couldn’t get wet, it had to be covered with tarpaulins. After use, these were rolled up and stored on the luggage rack. Nowadays, this practice is rare, but the number of trucks equipped with such a roof rack seems to be increasing. Decorated with a beer crate from days gone by, it’s almost impossible to imagine our current urban landscape without them.
At the time, Euronorms had never been heard of. If a lorry was heavily loaded, you could clearly hear and see it. A beautiful, deep engine rumble accompanied by plumes of smoke would come out of the exhaust without anyone being surprised.
With the introduction of Euronorm, all that seemed to be coming to an end. Trucks were to become quieter and, above all, cleaner. Soon, enthusiastic trucks were fitted with a bypass in the exhaust system, the so-called exhaust valve.
This valve gives the driver the choice of passing exhaust gases through the original exhaust system or through a direct pipe, which increases decibels considerably. There are even real decibel contests, where people compete to obtain the highest number of decibels produced. These days, modifications to the exhaust system are punishable by law, and the resulting fines are not insignificant. This doesn’t stop true fanatics from giving up, they’re just more careful when using the exhaust valve.
Brussels has embarked on a real policy of discouraging old lorries. Environmental zones have been created in all European countries where only the cleanest trucks are allowed. Trucks with Euro 4 engines or more can now enter these environmental zones. From 2022, they will only be allowed to enter with Euro 6 or higher engines. In the Maasvlakte port area, the minimum Euro 6 standard already applies. There are other areas in Europe where the highest environmental standard already applies. Furthermore, in all European countries, tolls or road taxes are higher for trucks with lower Euro standards. In Germany, for example, the difference between a Euro 5 truck and a Euro 6 truck is already 1.1 cents per kilometre. Here, the difference between a Euro 3 and Euro 6 truck is even 5.3 centimes per kilometre! Customers who reimburse the foreign toll are almost always based on the cheapest tariff, which means that as an entrepreneur, you have to pay the aforementioned 5.3 centimes out of your own pocket.
In the Netherlands, owners of older trucks still fare relatively well. For a Euro 3 to 6 truck, you pay the same tax rate. A Euro 2 costs 60% more, a Euro 1 75% more and a Euro 0 90% more. This table shows the annual Eurovignette rates in 2021. The image comes from Eurovignettes.eu
The price difference in the Netherlands mainly concerns the purchase of the Eurovignette. The Eurovignette is a compulsory certificate in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden for lorries weighing 12,000 kg or more that use motorways. It is remarkable that the difference between Euro 5 and Euro 6 for trucks with 4 axles or more is only 77 euros per year. That’s remarkable because that’s where there’s still a bit of profit to be made with an older truck. It’s true that in the Netherlands, you pay more road tax for a tractor with two axles than for one with 3 axles or more. As you can see from the table, the difference is €27 per quarter (2 axles with air suspension €244 and 3 or more axles with air suspension €217). So if you have a three-axle Euro 5 tractor, you pay €108 less per year than for a two-axle Euro 6 tractor. If you only drive in the Netherlands with a three-axle Euro 5 tractor, you will pay less than with a two-axle Euro 6 tractor.
It won’t be easy to make a pre-2000 (Euro 0 to Euro 2) truck profitable. Of course, there will still be some pre-2000 commercial trucks, but these will mainly be company transports. For example, a lorry fitted with a crane truck from a steel construction company that covers very few kilometres. Replacing such a lorry often represents a considerable investment, so the higher road tax is taken for granted. In addition, trucks of such a respectable age will mainly be used for leisure purposes.
For a truck meeting the Euro 3 standard, the Netherlands applies the same tax rate as for a truck meeting the Euro 6 standard. You pay an extra 176 euros a year for the Eurovignette, but this seems negligible on an annual basis. The tax rate for Euro 3 will certainly increase in the years to come. With a Euro 3, you are not allowed to enter the Dutch environmental zones. On the other hand, Euro 3 trucks are not equipped with an Adblue installation, which means you can eliminate the costs of Adblue compared to the higher costs of the Eurovignette.
Euro 4 & 5
Trucks from 2005 (Euro 4) and 2009 (Euro 5) are certainly still profitable in the Netherlands. With these trucks, you can still enter all environmental zones outside the Maasvlakte until 2022. If you often travel abroad with your truck, buying a Euro 6 truck is well worth considering. Toll costs abroad are rising at an alarming rate every year, forcing haulage firms to upgrade to the Euro 6 standard. With competition tough in international transport, the only way to survive is to save money.
The Euro 6 standard made its appearance in 2014. As a result, there are already a huge number of used Euro 6 trucks on the market. So you don’t have to buy a new truck to meet the most stringent environmental requirements. Curious about the range of used Euro 6 trucks in the Netherlands? TrucksNL offers a wide range of Euro 6 tractors.