The biggest truck technology stories of 2021

The biggest truck technology stories of 2021

If it’s difficult getting microchips here in the States, I can’t imagine the supply chain nightmare it must be for elves in the North Pole. The jolly old elf and his crew may not be immune to the strains plaguing the transportation industry, but the show must go on. And just as truckers keep on trucking, there are no plans to skip the Christmas Eve-night sleigh ride for the man in the red suit.

Thankfully, the trucking industry (and Santa too, no doubt) has technology on its side to get ensure a supply strain doesn’t signal the end of the road. So, here are the biggest technology headlines that helped your fleet to find the end of this year in one piece.

Let’s beat a dead horse (reindeer?)–Microchip availability is still a problem

Fleet Equipment’s Director of Content Jason Morgan put the microchip shortage this way back in March:

“Think back to the first time you heard about the Coronavirus. Maybe it was January 2020, at a crowded conference when the buzz of the virus was growing, but it still seemed like a foreign problem. Three months later, the world shut down. This year there were similar murmurs, not of a virus that could impact the global population, but of a microchip shortage that could put a stranglehold on the global supply chain. Well, it’s March again, and those murmurs are starting to hit home for the trucking industry.”

Nine months later, we’re still feeling out what this shortage is going to mean for the industry as a whole (is it cool if we skip March 2022, by the way?). But through Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s president and senior analyst, we have an excellent resource to help us navigate these choppy waters to the storm’s end. Here’s what he had to say:

Time to give cybersecurity the front seat

Remember the SolarWinds attack, in which a Russian intelligence service snuck malicious code into a Texas-based company’s software update? Or this year’s Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, which took aim at an infrastructure cornerstone, one that moves about 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast? Attacks like these are scary, but they are good for one thing – they make businesspeople around the world sit up a little straighter and start taking cybersecurity seriously.

The key is to always be taking them seriously, not just after the next attack hits. What if your trucks were the target?

Here’s our interview with Neil Cawse, Geotab’s chief executive officer, to point you in a more secure direction:

Have we figured out automated driving yet?

Haha. Nope.

There are still questions – SO MANY QUESTIONS – surrounding automated trucks. At the peak of this mountain made of questions sit the many questions surrounding the safety of these vehicles, as well as who is responsible when something does go wrong. Today, it isn’t a very simple answer. But we can have a discussion with some of the bright minds in this business to get us closer to knowing the rights and wrongs of automation.

You actually thought we were going to ignore electrification?

Come on now, you’re on Fleet Equipment’s website! If you’ve been here before, you know that we write about electrification a lot, and there’s a reason for that. It’s threatening the status quo, bringing new options like hydrogen fuel cells to the transportation table, and is causing us to re-think how we contribute to the world’s carbon footprint on both a business and an individual level.

From trucks to charging to making deceptively complex business decisions about the future of your fleet, we’ve covered the gamut. Here are a few from the 2021 vault:

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ACT Research: Preliminary May Class 8 orders beat expectations

Early data shows Class 8 orders climbed considerably both m/m and y/y, but ACT it’s a slightly different story for Classes 5-7.

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ATA Truck Tonnage Index declines 1.2%

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello cites continued market softness, potentially leading to reduced industry capacity.

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Our ACT recap includes speeches from Volvo’s Roger Alm, Tesla’s Dan Priestley, and more.

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FTR: Truck orders exceed recent trends in May; vocational sales stand out

Not only are orders up m/m and y/y, FTR said this level is above recent demand trends and 2% above the average for May over the past decade.

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