The right vehicle will pay dividends.

Chris Bauer of Digital Air, Port Republic, Md., has three Freightliner Sprinters in his company's fleet.

Chris Bauer, co-owner of Digital Air (www.digair), knows his business investments will pay off when he invests for the long term, especially with mission-critical equipment like vehicles.

The right choice for vehicles has given the owner of the Port Republic, Md.-based service company advantages like better fuel mileage, more spacious and accessible cargo storage and lower maintenance costs.

Bauer and his sisterEdiefounded Digital Air after he secured his master HVAC license six years ago. Specializing in service for computer rooms and laboratories, the company services apartment and office buildings in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis, Md., and northern Virginia areas. Today, the company serves customers from four trucks.

Because Bauer decided to operate the business without the burden of capital debt, early on he had to compromise on the choice of his first truck. Fortunately, though, it didn’t take long to build the business to a point where he could afford the larger investment for the Freightliner Sprinter ( In the long-run, Bauer said he expects the Freightliner Sprinter will provide twice the service life compared to the first truck.

Today, the Euro-styled model makes up 75 percent of Bauer’s company trucks: three Freightliner Sprinters to one Ford E-350 van. Currently, two of the Freightliner Sprinters have approximately 150,000 miles on each of them, while the third has about 80,000 miles.

Bauer reports a second advantage of the Freightliner Sprinter is the diesel engine, which he says delivers nearly twice the fuel mileage of the other van. It wasn’t long before the fuel mileage advantage put the Freightliner Sprinter “on the positive side” compared to Bauer’s first truck.

“It’s pretty appealing to get up to 20 mpg with the Freightliner Sprinter compared to maybe 8 or 10 mpg with the Ford,” he says.

The fuel mileage advantage of the Freightliner Sprinter still pays a dividend even though the price for diesel is higher than gasoline. “Diesel fuel would have to go up a lot more before it was a wash (with gasoline),” Bauer notes.

Regardless of the price of diesel fuel, however, Bauer finds the cargo capacity of the Freightliner Sprinter offers a priceless advantage: With the most cargo room available among comparable vehicles, Bauer has installed organizers for equipment and small parts.

“Digging through a truck for a part takes time and can be frustrating,” Bauer explains. In his Freightliner Sprinter, he says, “I can stand up in the back and within seconds know if I have what I need for a job.”

Operational advantages extend to periodic maintenance services like changing engine oil and filter. Bauer brings the Freightliner Sprinters in for service at American Truck & Bus ( every 10,000 miles. Changing oil in the Ford is done more than twice as often.

Clearly, Bauer’s investment strategies are paying dividends on the job - and off the job, too. He appreciates the efficiencies of the Freightliner Sprinter so much he also uses the vehicle for personal business. “I don’t like driving anything else.”