Average truck operating costs have risen by a massive 75% since September 2000 while reported haulage rates were only 23% higher in July 2013 than back then, new cost figures from the RHA have shown.

The association's 2014 goods vehicle operating cost survey showed a total annual inflationary rise in the year to 30 September 2013 of 2.3% excluding fuel, across all categories of vehicle. A 2.5% decline in average bulk diesel prices in the year, however, left the overall cost increase at 1.5%.

Average bulk fuel prices fell from 113.63ppl at the end of September 2012 to 110.83ppl at the end of September 2013, reported the RHA. There was an average 5.2% increase in tyre costs during the period, with a 4.1% rise in vehicle and depreciation costs, a 5.4% hike in insurance costs, a 4.8% jump in repair and maintenance costs and a 3% increase in overheads. Driver employment costs, meanwhile, rose 2%.

Typical annual costs for a 44-tonne combination running 73,000 miles in the 12 months to 30 September 2013 were up 1.69% at £135,270, with fuel constituting 33.4%, wages 24.7% and overheads 16.3%. An average 44-tonne combination doing this mileage would incur standing costs of £325/day and running costs of about 78.4p per mile (including trailer), the RHA survey showed.

Typical annual costs for an 18-tonner running 50,000 miles were up 1.92% to £79,780, meanwhile, with wages accounting for 36.3% of the total; fuel amounting to 24.9%; and overheads 13.8%. An average 18-tonner doing this mileage would incur standing costs of some £225/day and running costs of around 51.3p per mile, it said.

Despite rising in the year to the end of September by less than the headline 2.1% inflation rate indicated by the November consumer prices index (CPI), costs remain a very significant issue for truck operators in view of the substantially lower rate increases since 2000, said Brian Fish, MD of logistics and transport consultancy DFF International, which compiles the RHA’s annual cost tables.

The Motor Transport Top 100  pointed to an average profit margin among the largest players in the industry of just 2%, he pointed out. “That’s better than last years average profit margin of just 1% but still ludicrous and unsustainable,” said Fish.