Extended Sleeper Cabs: Pros and Cons
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TopMark Funding is located within view of a highway, and do not think we miss the heavy-duty trucks that come by! We see all types of trucks traveling on that road, from flatbeds carrying tubing to trucks hauling almost 80,000 pounds of tomatoes in an open-faced trailer. One that has caught our eye looks normal, but a discerning eye would see it as no ordinary truck. The extended sleeper cab makes a standard sleeper cab look like a day cab.
What Is an Extended Sleeper Cab?
A standard sleeping cab has a bed in the back for the truck driver, plus maybe a minifridge and other small amenities. In contrast, an extended sleeper cab is more like an RV combined with a big rig. They range in size from 97 inches to 180 inches.
Here are some features you may find in an extended sleeper cab that you would not find in a standard sleeper:
- Mini freezer
- Bathroom with shower and toilet
- Flat screen television
- Storage cabinets
- Auxiliary heater/air conditioner
Just even one of these things can make a trucker’s life easier, but combined it makes trucking less of a job and more of an experience.
With the ability to fulfill almost every need a trucker can have, what is not to like? Here are some reasons why you might not want to purchase one immediately.
The most glaring downside to an extended sleeper cab is how much money it takes to own one. In our research we found a used 2017 Kenworth T680 that had its price reduced to “a mere” $145,000. To compare, a similar sleeper cab 2017 Kenworth T680 was marketed to be around $55,000, and a new 2021 Kenworth T680 sleeper cab is $149,500.
The gross vehicle weight rating is the legal limit for the entire vehicle and its contents: driver(s), tires, frame, trailer, cargo, and more. There is a reason why the start of this article mentioned almost 80,000 pounds of tomatoes. Every additional amenity, such as a flatscreen TV, is less cargo your truck can haul, which may ultimately lead to less revenue. Weight differentials vary, but an extended sleeper cabin can weigh over 3,500 more pounds.
Different amenities have different weights. If your custom sleeper is made-to-order, you may opt not to have a laundry machine set to shave off a few dozen pounds, but the main point stands that an extended sleeper has less weight to go around than a standard sleeper cab.
Additionally, more weight means less fuel efficiency, but this is not as much of a concern to warrant its own section as a driver will generally want to haul close to the weight limit to maximize revenue regardless.
The maximum legal length the entire vehicle can be before having to go through Oversize regulations is 65 feet. The longer your cabin, the shorter the trailer. That could mean less goods hauled and less revenue.
Beyond this, a longer truck requires more skill and effort to maneuver properly.
Additional Maintenance Costs
A truck without a toilet will never have a leaking sewer problem. When something goes wrong with one of the additional perks on the inside of the truck, it may take more than a diesel mechanic to fix it, ramping up the cost of ownership.
Why would anyone consider getting an extended sleeper if it means the three problems listed above? Here are some reasons why it may make sense:
We can argue the semantics of the trucker shortage for hours, but the simple truth is that retaining hirees is more important than recruiting new ones. It can cost $4,129 to hire a new employee on average, with the trucking industry almost certainly being even higher than that. Having your employee drive a truck that has amenities to maintain hygiene, health, and entertainment can reduce turnover, making an extended sleeper more of an investment than an expense.
In a standard sleeper, a teammate not behind the wheel basically has the choice of riding shotgun or on a bed. Being off the clock while being able to do things on a laptop, or cooking meals while still getting paid by the mile, can do wonders for efficiency.
Theoretically, law permitting, a team of three drivers could work on a shipment that absolutely has to get across the country in fewer than three days, driving eight hour shifts each so that the truck never stops except for refueling and switching operators. Shipping this high value and desperate cargo can result in higher revenues.
The time spent doing things at a truck stop rather than in the truck (showers, laundry, etc.) is translated to more waiting time and less time on the road. The revenue generated from additional driving time is not enough to offset the additional cost of the truck, but it does certainly mitigate it. The savings compound if there is more than one driver: for example, no need to stop for an emergency bathroom break for one person.
When you drive a big truck on the road, other drivers know that you mean business. If you seek the admiration of your fellow truck drivers, having a truck loaded with an entertainment station is sure to make you the talk of the truckstop.
Even if you do not care about drivers from other companies, a custom sleeper cab could be used for prestige within the company itself. Honoring a star employee with a plaque for 1 million miles without an accident is dandy and all, but the ability to drive a bigger and better big rig tops it. Having such a program in place can also motivate other employees to follow in the star’s footsteps.
An extended sleeper cab might not be economically viable for everyone, but there are ways to make it work for the few. Rewarding a highly skilled driver to haul small, high-value equipment that needs to get to its location in a just-in-time manner with a home away from home is one scenario where such a cabin may work for the better.
If you are interested in financing one of these trucks, we at TopMark Funding are more than willing to try working with our over two dozen lenders to find a solution for you. Read below for more information.
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ABOUT TOPMARK FUNDING
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