Karen Jones, executive vice president and chief marketing officer with Ryder, covers four big issues in the logistics arena: advanced vehicle technology, accelerating demand for e-commerce, asset-sharing for commercial vehicles, and digital technologies.
Advanced vehicle technology covers a multitude of applications, including electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and other tools for achieving sustainability goals. “The world is changing quite quickly with electric,” says Jones.
Accelerated demand for e-commerce is a given in the omnichannel retail world, Jones says, adding that the trend shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.
EV technology is advancing more quickly on the consumer and passenger side of the automotive market, largely because of the need for charging infrastructure to support trucks of all sizes. Light-duty vehicles and those serving the middle mile are less of a problem, but the big rigs still don’t have enough charging stations to operate efficiently. And electric Class 8 trucks cost around three times more than diesel models.
Autonomous trucks are even further in the future, Jones says, mostly because of the difficulties of social acceptance and the regulatory environment.
Asset-sharing for commercial vehicles is another significant trend in trucking. It mirrors what has happened in the housing market with Airbnb and other providers of temporary quarters, according to Jones. “When a truck sits idle,” she says, “why not monetize that asset?” The practice is occurring for everything from small vans to 18-wheelers, although progress with the latter is slower because of the need to allay concerns about security, and the large investments that are required to maintain the equipment.
Digital technologies are all the rage on every front of logistics, as consumers demand total visibility of their shipments through every stage of ordering and delivery. Now, says Jones, “the technology is coming out of the back of the house to the front of the house.”
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