One of the most important facets of driving a truck for a living is keeping an eye on the price of diesel. Until the switch to electric cars and trucks is complete, every carrier needs access to affordable fuel to keep drivers and their loads on the road. With so many Americans also contingent on gasoline for their cars and diesel for the semi-trucks that bring them their goods, these prices stay in the forefront of many minds. The trucking industry is heavily dependent on these numbers, and, after several years of economic uncertainty and ups and downs, these prices seem to be finally stabilizing. So, what can everyone expect this year? 2024 is now underway and we are all looking at how prices can change over the spring and summer.
The end of 2023 brought the end of a steady, eight week drop in diesel prices. When that gradual decline came to a stop, the abrupt increase ended up being about two cents more per gallon. As everyone knows these days, every cent matters. The good news is that the experts seem to believe that those two cents, and many more, will fall off over the coming months.
“Ain’t got no gas in it”
Why are there so many questions swirling around gas prices in the trucking industry already this year? One of the reasons can be traced back to the surge in conversations about hybrid and electric trucks, which have been slowly increasing over the past few years. These game changing trucks are already hitting the roads in some places, but they are far from ready to take over from standard vehicles using diesel at this time. Because of that, the amount of diesel being used is expected to grow over the next few years as the hybrid and fully electric trucks are finishing up their developments and testing. These needs are driving a fresh demand that is already being supplied with new refineries and oil rigs opening up all over the world, including Kuwait and Nigeria, both ready to meet the requests being predicted in the future. Even the U.S. has raised their refining capacity to nearly 18.31 billion barrels per day, up from just a little over 18 billion in January of 2023.
Meanwhile, while many are ready for these new, fuel efficient trucks to take to the road, almost everyone looking at the economy can see that it is growing fast as it attempts to shed fears of a recession in 2024. The years after the Covid-19 pandemic have seen financial woes ebb and flow on every front, from strikes to inflation and so much more. Now, after years of upheaval (that everyone has all talked about until they’re blue in the face), 2024 seems to be the year of stabilization, beginning with the price of gasoline and diesel fuels.
As of January 1, 2024, diesel prices sat at $3.876 per gallon, seventy cents less expensive than it was at the same time in 2023. Per the usual statistics, prices are highest in California, and they are lowest on the Gulf Coast. As we move further into 2024 and away from the high-travel/high-transport season for goods, the prices might seem to be wavering a little, but AAA spokesman, Andrew Gross, states that these prices usually move up and down for the first six weeks of the year, but then level off and stabilize around Valentine’s Day, which is just around the corner! (In case anyone else needed a reminder…)
If there is one thing everyone understands, predicting gas prices in this day and age is similar to guessing which video will go viral from week to week. Almost anything can cause fuel prices to change. Natural disasters, geopolitical events, and even minor changes in the global trading markets can cause fluctuations to occur. Also, while there are refineries opening all over the world, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is expecting some to close, such as Houston’s LyondelBasell refinery. Suffice it to say, there is no crystal ball to accurately predict the future cost of fuel. However, with all of the evidence pointing to a decline in these prices, experts are looking forward to seeing what changes lie ahead.
Meaghan Goldberg covers recruitment and digital marketing for Lionzone. A Patterson, GA native, after graduating from both Valdosta State University and Middle Tennessee State University, Meaghan joined Lionzone in 2018 as a digital recruitment strategist before becoming the social media manager.