The optimal shipment size and truck size choice: The allocation of trucks across hauls

Publisher's full text
Gerard De Jong

There has been a growing interest in understanding how firms allocate their trucks across hauls, and how this allocation changes under various economic environments. This study investigates how variations in route/haul, carrier and vehicle characteristics affect the optimal vehicle size choice and the associated choice of shipment size. We show that the two choices are derived from the same optimization problem. There can be a continuum of shipment sizes, but decision-makers in freight transport have to choose from a limited number of vehicle alternatives. Therefore, we use a discrete-continuous econometric model where shipment size is modeled as a continuous variable, and vehicle size/type choice as a discrete variable. The results indicate that when faced with higher demand, and during longer trips firms are more likely to use heavier vehicles and ship in larger quantities which suggest that firms are realizing economies of scale and economies of distance. The study also discusses the effect of vehicle operating cost on the vehicle selection process and its policy implications.

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