Industry leaders share thoughts on where the trucking industry is going at ACT seminar

Industry leaders share thoughts on where the trucking industry is going at ACT seminar

Industry leaders talked about the transition to EVs, what's anticipated for fleers in the next 18 months, and how fleets feel about the future.

ACT Research’s semi-annual seminar in August hosted industry leaders such as Rick Dauch, chief executive officer of Workhorse; Rick Mullininx, president and chief operating officer at Great Dane; and John Diez, chief financial officer at Ryder; among many others who presented their insights and outlook on the transportation industry.

According to Dauch, the transition to commercial electric vehicles “will take decades, not years. Infrastructure timing and costs are critical. Currently, there are 160,000 EV chargers in the US. We need 1.2 million by 2027.”

As for the trailer industry, Mullininx pointed out that sustainability is being advanced by government regulations, the adoption of fully electric operations, the integration of e-axles into equipment, and the development of quieter vehicles.

What is anticipated for fleets in the coming 18 months? Diez notes that there has been a persistent sense of unpredictability, but there’s optimism that rates will start to level off. The freight market is expected to experience decreased strength in the early part of the year. Therefore, he suggests that if you’re considering fleet replenishment, the present moment presents an opportune time to proceed.

Additionally, the dealer panel featured Laura Perrotta, president of the National Automobile Dealers Association (ATD), Jodie Teuton, co-founder and vice president of Kenworth of Louisiana, and Maria Sherwood, finance manager and CIC at Sherwood Trucks.

Regarding how truck dealerships are navigating the post-COVID environment, Teuton shared, “We never stopped working. There were no days we were closed. The positive part of COVID is that it elevated the industry. I would like to see that momentum continue. It made us understand how important we are. We’re now able to expand our ways to engage with customers, and that’s a good thing.”

Asked whether fleets are concerned for the future, Teuton highlights ongoing challenges such as the escalation of interest rates and insurance premiums, as well as the growing expenses associated with trucks and labor. These issues remain sources of concern. Nevertheless, Teuton emphasizes the commitment to daily work and the constant effort to address these challenges. From a dealer’s standpoint, Teuton said, the responsibility lies in educating customers about anticipated developments. Truck dealers, in this context, continually serve as advisors and consultants.

Sherwood emphasized that their predictions have become even more crucial due to allocation constraints. Given the challenges of inventory backlogs and a slower supply chain, their forecasting has become highly predictive. Additionally, their customers have learned over the past three years to assess their business realistically.

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