The trucking industry can be a little difficult to project trends for, but there are some glimpses into its future. New laws have been passed, new regulations implemented and technology marches onward. We’ve gone from talking about aerodynamics, smaller displacement engines, and low-rolling resistance tires to zero emissions, drone delivered goods, and cross country freight driving in fully automated tractor trailers. Whew! That seems like a gargantuan leap, but creativity stops for no one. Improvement is always on the horizon. And with that said, there are some interesting things to look forward to.
1. Infrastructure Bill
Although President Biden’s infrastructure bill was passed at the very end of 2021, it can often be a very long and tedious process before federal funds actually get to the business they were set out to do. And here we are in 2023 and finally your International Durastar is beginning to see some of the changes. The investment in national infrastructure creates tons of jobs and plenty of revenue. Machines and supplies have to be purchased for the massive undertaking of maintaining roadways, bridges, ports, railroads and more. More trucks will be sold, more freight moved and moreover, there will be more risk-free money to invest in advanced technology to keep us moving forward.
2. Fuel Changes
It was a huge shock to learn that internal combustion truck engines (ICEs) were being developed that could run on zero emissions fuels like ethanol and still match the efficiency of the current diesel standard. Now, this does not make the discussion and development of battery-electric or hydrogen cell vehicles obsolete. These powertrains still hold some promise, but science and technology is a good bit away from actualizing them and understanding the huge impact they would have on society as a whole. It’s a lot more realistic that we’ll see ZEV ICEs hit the market far sooner.
3. Electric Vehicles
Electric trucks certainly have the potential to be a total and maybe even a surprising success to some. Electric just makes sense in specific applications, like urban and local areas, and even regionally when range isn’t a huge factor. For those who were concerned about the performance of electric vehicles, it’s already been shown that they can well weather the trudge of full blown freight operations. They’ve just got to make it over a few more hurdles, namely the cost of acquiring electric fleets and several major infrastructure issues. It’s still a young technology that will take a little more time before it is able to really take root, but as time moves forward, more and more electric trucks will be making their way into fleets across the country.
The trucking industry is full of surprises, and some of the developments that come forward during 2023 are sure to be happy surprises. It’s not always easy to make these projections, but the trends that are shaping the industry won’t be boring. There’s a lot to look forward to and a lot more to learn, so we’ll all keep our eyes peeled on the road ahead.