ACT Expo 2022 Live Blog: Day 3 (with Cummins CEO Keynote!)
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ACT Expo 2022 Live Blog: Day 3 (with Cummins CEO Keynote!)

Jason Morgan is the content director of Fleet Equipment.

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Listen. Do you hear that? This could be the quietest heavy-duty truck ride-and-drive event ever. Battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell–you name it. The future of zero-emissions trucks weren’t just on display, they were rolling around a closed course at ACT Expo 2022. See for yourself:

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The day started off with running from booth to booth on the show floor. Rest assured we’ll be working through the pile of conversations, pics, videos and news over the next coming weeks. For now, it’s our last day at the show and last live blog of panels and keynotes. If you missed our previous Live Blogs, click here for Day One, and click here for Day Two.

Now, Let’s get the blogging!

Sustainability executive panel

A wider view of sustainability has been a big focus here at ACT Expo this year. There’s clearly no magic bullet for decarbonization. Here’s how some of the largest companies in the transportation segment are tackling their own sustainability goals.

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Here’s who’s on stage:

• Craig Harper, Chief Sustainability Officer, EVP, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc.;
• Matt McLelland, VP of Sustainability and Innovation, Covenant Logistics;
• Ari Silkey, GM, North America Surface Transportation, Amazon; and
• Debbie Kalish, Director, Enterprise Sustainability and ESG Initiatives, American Tire Distributors

Here are the cool quote-ables:

Silkey: Part of the Climate Pledge initiative is reporting and having data. The first thing we do is a deep dive to understand the challenges and goals and where you can be successful. We hold ourselves accountable, and publish reports on a regular basis. …

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As a whole industry, we need to find our balance. Our customers want deliveries at a fast pace. We want to deliver our on our customer promise in a sustainable ways. I think the costs are coming down and we’re starting to turn the corner. …

Hardest part is innovating at scale. Not the innovating part, but the scaling part. How do we take it to scale from a small pilot program? If we had battery technology increase at a better price it would go a long way to solving a lot of challenges.

Harper: You’ve heard the word transparency, and that’s one thing we’ve learned. When you start digging into the information, and talk with your partners, they’re interested in transparency. In doing so, we can show our customers through our intermodal transition that we saved 3.49 million metric ton equivalent emissions. Transparency teaches you a lot about yourself and informs the outside world about what you’re doing. …

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While we’re waiting for infrastructure, technology, and vehicles to come online, there are things we can do right now. Take advantage of carbon offsets. What you’re doing is funding activities that’s reducing carbon somewhere else, but this is a global process. We see carbon offsets as something we can do now while we wait for the technology, but offsets let us take action now. …

When you talk about a monumental shift in the way goods have been moving for years and years, we all have to understand that it’s going to be a huge undertaking. I get too excited, I want the trucks and infrastructure out there. When I see what’s on the floor here, I get jazzed. It’s changing, but we have to start talking to OEMs about range and charging, but if you don’t have the answers to those and total cost of ownership, then it’s hard to lay out a plan for how you’e going to get there. …

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We have all the great desires and wishes, but we have to remember that the company has to be sustainable as well. if the company is not sustainable, we can’t carry out those great plans. It’s difficult now, the needle is moving, and i think there will be massive improvements. Think about flat screen TVs–they were $20,000 when they first came out. But the costs will come down. The costs will come down here too. …

But there’s not a clear path right now.

McLelland: If you don’t tell your own story, someone else will. I talk with Wall Street analysts, and one I was talking to showed me our sustainability score, which was completely wrong, that he got from a company that aggregates data. They never contacted us. If you’re on the fence about starting your story–do it before someone else does it. There is a lot of wrong information out there about a lot of people. …

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A lot of companies, a lot of the roadmaps require technologies that don’t exist. Down in the expo hall there are early stages of technologies, disruptive stuff. So for our roadmap, some of the technologies haven’t been invented yet. There’s a company right now doing very interesting things with direct carbon capture. I think it’s important to remember that some of our success hasn’t been invented yet.

[On natural gas] Truckers are like elephants. We have a bad experience and we don’t forget. I think it’s time we take another look at natural gas. It does check a lot of boxes today. We need the fuel scalable and available, but we do need to look at that. I’m really excited about renewable diesel too. It’s one of the one things I really need to dig into.

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Kalish: Today, we modestly generate carbon credits. It’s something we look at. I think there’s a lot of value in the voluntary credits because it helps make a change. But going back to transparency, make sure that the money you’re putting into the carbon credit actually affects change–if you’re money is going to that–that’s where you want to be. …

Today with our initiatives, we’re looking at incorporating some of that into our own cost, but as we do partnerships we ask if there’s an opportunity for others, like our suppliers, to cover some of the cost. We want to do work in tire recycling. There’s benefit to others than the retailer. The community benefits from it but the manufacturer benefits from it as well. if we can get those tires off the road and back to a recycler those can become new tires if we can get them back to the manufacturer. The costs might not be a price tag, but a material that we can use to create a solution. …

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We’ve been focused on EV, but at the show we’ve seen the technologies, and we have to research [natural gas] and we have to run the numbers to find out if this gets us to where we want to go. With any fuel you use, you have to look at its history too. You have to keep trying, keep working and it’s all about the step change to get to your climate goal.

Fleet Awards!

The awards go to…

Cummins closes out the keynotes

This one is big. Cummins was at the show with its fuel agnostic engine platform, and this is the first time it’s taken to a big stage since the news that it acquired Meritor in late February. Watch the full presentation by Tom Linebarger, Chairman and CEO, Cummins below:

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