2018 was a banner year for the trucking industry in the US. The year saw freight-hauling demands set records while it was the best year since 1998 in terms of tonnage. Employment rates in the industry saw a steady and consistent increase all throughout the year, even when the economy saw a dip in form at times.
2018 was nothing less than magnificent for the trucking industry. Are the good times going to continue into 2019? That’s a question experts are rather lukewarm about.
The fourth quarter of 2018 saw the performance in several categories trail off, leaving professional and experts to deduce that 2019 would be good, but just not as great.
Let’s see what experts expect from the trucking industry this year:
Persistent Driver Shortage
For quite a while, the trucking industry has seen a decreasing trend when it comes to driver availability. The reason: a high number of old drivers are retiring without anyone to replace them, or with just a handful of young, inexperienced drivers taking their places.
With the massive growth in freight-hauling demand, this driver shortage is all the more noticeable and has now become the No. 1 challenge for fleets all over the country.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimated a deficit of 50,000 drivers in the industry, which has led transport companies to increase driver salaries, offer bonuses and other benefits to retain them. This trend promises to continue in 2019, and hiring minority and women truck drivers is expected to experience a boost.
Used Trucks and Electric Trucks
Even with a sharp decline in December 2018, the year saw an aggressively rising demand for new trucks that’s expected to continue into 2019, with expected demand already surpassing possible supply.
So, if you’re eyeing a used garbage truck for sale, you’re in luck. Used truck prices are expected to fall by 30% in the first quarter of 2019 because of the sheer demand for new trucks.
Looking at the more eco-friendly side of things, Tesla unveiled the electric Class 8 Semi truck back in November 2017, and it is supposed to make it to production in 2019. Behemoths like UPS and Pepsi have already pre-ordered, and others will follow.
Demand seems to be increasing in urban areas like New York City and the cities of Southern California, and Volvo and Daimler will be testing their electric trucks in California this year.
Volvo recently introduced the FE Electric, an electric garbage truck that will start selling in Europe this year. Maybe we see it making an appearance in the United States? Time will tell.
Advancements in technology are revolutionizing a wide range of businesses and industries, and the trucking industry isn’t an exception.
A number of startups are developing Artificial Intelligence-based technologies to change the trucking industry for the better. Companies like XPO, Ontrack, and others are using AI for efficient trailer tracking and reporting and dynamic route planning to minimize fleet costs, maximize profits, analyze truck health and optimize operations.
Another technology that is making waves is blockchain. Several companies have joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) which is committed to driving the adoption of blockchain into the transport and logistics industry.
Blockchain technology promises to improve the trucking industry in these aspects: payment and dispute resolution, administrative costs, smart contracts and the transportation of temperature-controlled goods.
If the word of experts is to be believed, 2019 will be a good year for transport, but it will be no 2018. Freight demand is expected to increase, the driver shortage is expected to be prevalent but technological innovations are expected to help reduce costs. It surely is a year to look forward to.