Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, June 23, 2021:
ATA Truck Tonnage Index falls for second straight month
“Tonnage, despite falling slightly over the last two months, remains well above the lows of last year,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “This is no small deal considering that truck tonnage fell significantly less than many other indicators during the depths of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.”
Costello noted that gasoline shipments are helping keep tonnage elevated as demand for travel increases.
“I’m also expecting retail freight to remain robust as inventories are at historic lows,” he said. “As retail stocks are rebuilt, it will boost freight. As has been the case for some time, trucking’s biggest challenges are not on the demand side, but on the supply side, including difficulty finding qualified drivers.”
Compared with May 2020, the seasonally adjusted index rose 3.7%, which was preceded by a 6.7% year-over-year jump in April. Year-to-date, compared with the same five months in 2020, tonnage is up 0.4%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 113.8 in May, 0.2% below the April level (114). ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.5% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Motor carriers collected $791.7 billion, or 80.4% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
Minneapolis considers ban on overnight truck parking
“The Minnesota Trucking Association strongly opposes the truck parking ban under consideration by the city of Minneapolis,” said MTA President John Hausladen in a written statement. “If approved, this ban would force truck drivers to park outside of the city, which would impede on-time deliveries and disrupt daily commerce.”
The proposed ban says all vehicles that weigh or have a carrying capacity over 26,000 pounds would be prohibited from parking on any street unless one of the following criteria is met:
Citations for violation of the ordinance could be written to the driver, lessee or owner of the vehicle. The fine for violation of the ordinance would initially be $100 through Dec. 31, 2022. Thereafter, the fine would be $250.
Hausladen noted that many trucks parked overnight in the city are independent contractors from the area.
“These small businesses, many of whom are minority owned, would have no viable alternative for overnight parking,” he said. “This ban could effectively force many of these hard-working residents to choose between their livelihood and the place they call home. With an existing truck driver shortage we simply cannot afford to have qualified drivers leave the industry.”
Hausladen called on the city to look for ways to provide more safe parking for truckers rather than taking parking away.
“We call on the Minneapolis City Council to craft a fundamentally fair policy that balances parking management concerns with the essential services truck drivers provide,” he said. “We would welcome the opportunity to work with Minneapolis leaders to develop a smart solution.”
MTA urged its member fleets and their drivers to testify at the hearing.
Pricing continues record-setting trend in for-hire trucking
ACT found that a drop in load-to-truck rations on DAT during May, combined with a softening of consumer-related factors, led to the lowest Volume Index reading since the start of the pandemic, ACT President and Senior Analyst Kenny Vieth said.
Vieth noted, however, that despite the drop in volumes, “we continue to witness the strongest rate environment in the survey’s history, with capacity re-engagement extraordinarily challenging as a result of driver and manufacturing constraints limiting the supply response.”
Regarding the supply-demand balance, Vieth said, “The pullback in the freight gauge and a tough seasonal factor on top of that were contributing factors in the sharp decline of the Supply-Demand Balance reading, which dropped 9ppts month-over-month to a 13-month low 50.6 in May. Strong freight visibility suggests this metric will rebound from here as rebalancing continues into the medium-term.”
Trucker Tools acquired by ASG
ASG has other properties in the transportation sector, and the freight brokerage market is “ripe for innovative companies,” said Jesse Buckingham, who joins Trucker Tools from ASG as chief revenue officer.
In the last 5 to 7 years, a number of well-funded digital freight brokers have tried to disintermediate the transportation industry by developing freight matching technology that connects shippers directly with carriers, but their impact “hasn’t been quite as significant as many were expecting,” he added. “Brokers are here to stay.”
Freight brokers that are trying to innovate while honoring their relationships with carriers have created space for technology providers, like Trucker Tools, to help with digital transformation, he explained. “We are excited about Trucker Tools as a leader in that space.”
ASG has made 35 acquisitions to date and specializes in helping software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies grow and build out reliable, resilient software services.
“Their philosophy, mindset and approach complement Trucker Tools culture and values, and are well-aligned with our laser-focus on superior customer engagement and product performance,” said Prasad Gollapalli, founder and CEO of Trucker Tools.
Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Trucker Tools was founded in 2013. About 300 freight brokers are on the platform today, along with almost 1.4 million truckers and 170,000 small fleet operators using the mobile booking and tracking app.
Gollapalli added that Trucker Tools plans to accelerate its software development under the new ownership. “There are a lot of things we have been wanting to do in this space,” he said. “We are still faster than most companies, but we’d like to take it to the next level. With this partnership, we will be able to do that.”
Trucker Tools and ASG did not announce financial terms of the acquisition.
It seems my colleagues at NACFE and I have several conversations and email threads going about electric trucks all of the time.
Part of it is because we are in the run-up to Run on Less -Electric, but it also has to be because there is so much momentum behind electric vehicles (EVs) at the moment. In certain corners of our industry, there are ongoing discussions about which trucks could be electric today, how many more could be electric tomorrow, and who will be involved to make it happen.
There is no doubt that electric trucks are not yet ready to replace all diesel- or gasoline-powered ones. But the benefits, including no tailpipe emissions, lower operating costs, independence from oil and more, are enticing enough that there is a large amount of investment leading to confidence that problems with range, charging infrastructure, purchase price and other issues will be solved.
I was recently in some conversations about natural gas trucks, and what I find interesting is the benefits and challenges are nearly exactly the same as they are for EVs. Proponents of natural gas tout lower emissions, lower operating costs and its abundance in North America, while recognizing the challenges of range, fueling infrastructure and purchase price.
Natural gas has been around in our industry for a several decades. I’m not exactly sure how long it’s been used in transportation but my earliest memories are of a CNG powered bus that took me to grade school. I could tell this bus was quieter. It had that unmistakable smell of natural gas instead of diesel fumes, but did not quite have as much power as it struggled over the hills of suburban Pittsburgh. So, without getting into specifics on how long it’s been since I was in grade school, suffice it to say that natural gas has had a multiple decades head start on EVs.
I think it’s fair to say that natural gas has not found the success as a transportation fuel that its proponents have hoped, and optimism around the fuel is waning. Not that long ago, investment and enthusiasm were pouring into natural gas as fracking made it cheap and abundant. There was even the hope that it would fuel our passenger cars.
On the surface, it seemed to make sense. It was cheaper than gasoline and many of us have natural gas in our homes, opening up the possibility of re-fueling at home (again, the parallels to EVs are uncanny.) But clearly, natural gas-powered cars have not taken over our garages.
The story is the same with trucks. There are fleets that are enthusiastic about their natural gas trucks, and some are taking delivery of their first natural gas trucks today. But the fact is, the technology has stagnated and the investment money has moved elsewhere. The cost premium for a natural gas truck today is about as much as it was a decade ago, the range hasn’t really improved, the fueling infrastructure remains spotty and it still needs massive incentives to make financial sense to most fleets.
I will confess my ambivalence towards natural gas as a transportation fuel. In grade school, I did not think one was better than the other, just that they were different. But I also never wanted a car powered by it, and in my years in this industry I have rarely had any discussions on it, much less multiple ones in the same week.
What I’m wondering is, how did we get here? Why did EVs go from geeky science experiment to cutting edge cool to the future of transportation while another technology with the same challenges languished? Yes, battery costs have come down dramatically, but it took hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to get there. I suspect that amount of money could have solved some of the problems with natural gas as well. And most investment money is a trend follower, not a trendsetter.
I think the reason is Tesla. The Model S took electric cars from “No, that’s not my Prius” to “I want that Tesla!” I almost hate to say it, because Elon Musk gets enough accolades already while so many others have quietly done so much to help our industry along, but that was the turning point for me and, I suspect, our industry.
Would natural gas have taken off if it had its own Elon Musk? Who knows? Would EVs still be in our transportation future? Probably. But I don’t think we’d be having nearly as many meetings and projects about electric trucks today as we are without him. Thanks Elon.
Kinedyne’s has released its new Kold-Front Refrigerated Curtain System as a driver-friendly alternative to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) strip curtains typically used to keep refrigerated cargo at a safe temperature during transport.
The company claims its new solution also provides better thermal resistance and greater durability than traditional refrigerated side curtains.
Kold-Front is effortless to use and sturdier than a standard refrigerated side curtain, which provides better insulation to maintain required low interior temperatures while loading and unloading cargo.
“The Kold-Front system makes drivers’ lives significantly easier while they’re making all those trips in and out of the truck,” said Roger Perlstein, vice president – sales and marketing, Kinedyne. “Because it’s a solid curtain, it keeps the cold air inside the truck to protect cargo and, thanks to Kinedyne’s exclusive ultra-glide design, drivers have no trouble opening and closing it.”
One of the major weaknesses of traditional refrigerated side curtains is the use of two-wheeled plastic rollers.
The wheels often bind, causing the curtain to get stuck. Drivers tug on the curtains to get them moving, and then the plastic breaks.
Instead of plastic rollers, Kold-Front curtains are equipped with a patented five-roller system – a precisely balanced combination of five steel wheels with ball bearings for minimal friction.
Kold-Front’s solid curtain provides better insulation with a curtain that is 40% heavier than a standard side curtain, helping to maintain the required low interior temperatures in a refrigerated trailer.
The Kold-Front Refrigerated Curtain System kit includes an 84-inch Kin-Slider aluminum roller track; three five-wheel rollers; standard-sized 26 oz. PVC commercial-grade curtain – 60 inches wide by 102 inches long, ballast-weighted; and four hook and loop fasteners.
While the kit comes with a standard-curtain, the color and dimensions are customizable based on fleets’ needs. The curtain has a 15-inch trimmable bottom sweep to allow for length adjustments.
Kinedyne provides instructions for fleets to install the kit themselves or arrange for their dealer/distributor to do it.
Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, June 22, 2021:
Attorney enters guilty plea for role in staged-accident fraud scheme
According to Evans, attorney Danny Patrick Keating Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for his involvement in the case. Keating was the 33rd defendant charged in the federal probe into the intentional staging of accidents with trucks in the New Orleans metro area. Of the 33 indicted defendants, 23 have entered guilty pleas in federal court.
Keating admitted to conspiring with Damian Labeaud and others to defraud insurance companies, commercial carriers and trucking companies.
Labeaud referred staged accidents to Keating and other New Orleans personal injury attorneys for $1,000 per passenger for accidents involving trucks and $500 per passenger for accidents not involving trucks. Keating reportedly advanced Labeaud thousands of dollars for the accidents and instructed Labeaud that he owed Keating a certain number of accidents based on the amount of money advanced.
Keating admitted he knowingly paid Labeaud for 31 staged truck accidents. He represented 77 plaintiffs involved in the 31 accidents staged by Labeaud. He also settled 17 of the 31 staged accidents, earning his clients approximately $1.5 million.
Keating faces a maximum term of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to any person of the offense.
FMCSA officially delays implementation of electronic med cert rule
The agency published an interim final rule in 2018 extending the compliance date for the rule until June 22, 2021. However, the proper systems are still not in place, so the agency is delaying the implementation until June 23, 2025. The extension “will provide FMCSA time to complete certain information technology (IT) system development tasks for its National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and to provide the state driver’s licensing agencies (SDLAs) sufficient time to make the necessary IT programming changes when the new National Registry system is completed and available,” FCMSA said in the notice.
The rule, part of which took effect in 2015, requires FMCSA to electronically transmit to SDLAs the results of drivers’ medical certifications once the exams have been completed. FMCSA receives this information from medical examiners, who are required to upload exam results to FMCSA by midnight the day after the exam is completed. State agencies, once they receive results from FMCSA, will send the results to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) to make other states aware of the results.
Once the rule is fully implemented, motor carriers will no longer be required to verify that CDL/CLP drivers were certified by a certified medical examiner listed on the National Registry.
The proposal to delay the compliance date means that through June 22, 2025:
Reopening date still unknown for closed I-40 bridge in Memphis
The bridge, which normally carries some 41,000 vehicles a day, has been closed since May 11 when a routine inspection found a major crack in a steel support beam.
Currently, all interstate traffic in the Memphis area is being diverted to I-55. See details of the detour here.
Earlier this month, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the bridge . "The situation with this bridge may be a regional issue, but it is a national concern," Buttigieg said.
It's been estimated that the closing of the I-40 bridge costs the trucking industry some $2.4 million a day.
California Trucking Association CEO Shawn Yadon, and Greg Feary, President and managing partner of Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hansen and Feary, will present during a CCJ Symposium session, "The California Conundrum,” which will discuss the AB 5 ruling and what it can mean for the trucking industry as a whole. Click here to register, or here to see the full agenda.
The California Trucking Association said it plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent California’s restrictive AB 5 law from being enacted after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday denied the group’s request for an en banc rehearing. The petition for a rehearing was denied in a 2-1 decision Monday.
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The court ruled in April that the ABC test included in the AB 5 law applies to trucking companies and reversed an injunction that had exempted the trucking industry from state’s law and the ABC test for determining validity of any independent contractor classification.
Transportation specialists Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hansen and Feary said the injunction could be lifted and the law applied to trucking as soon as June 28. However, with its plans to appeal to SCOTUS, CTA "may file a motion to stay the issuance of the Ninth Circuit’s mandate until the Supreme Court decides whether to take the case."
Scopelitis also noted that under special pandemic timing rules, CTA has 150 days to petition SCOTUS for a writ of certiorari to see if the court will take the case.
In its denial, the Ninth Circuit said the “petition for rehearing en banc was circulated to the judges of the court, and no judge requested a vote for en banc consideration.
“While the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court to deny an en banc rehearing is disappointing, we are committed to continuing our efforts to protect California’s 70,000 independent truckers," the California Trucking Association said in a statement Monday. “Enforcing AB 5 would throw the nation’s supply chain into further chaos and destroy the livelihoods of thousands of blue collar entrepreneurs.”
CTA added that, despite the setback, it is not giving up its efforts to have trucking exempted from the law.
“We will look to every option to prevent greater harm, including filing a motion to delay the removal of the preliminary injunction, while we also petition the U.S. Supreme Court to consider our case,” the group said.
The AB 5 law took effect at the beginning of 2020, but a district judge granted CTA an injunction on the grounds that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (F4A or FAAAA) preempted the ABC test’s application to trucking. F4A preempts any state-level laws that would “interfere with prices, routes and services” of motor carriers.
The 'B' prong of the ABC test is particularly problematic for traditional leasing arrangements with owner-operators classified as independent contractors, given it requires a contractor to be outside the normal course of business of the entity contracted to.
Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for the Western States Trucking Association, said his group has always believed the outcome of AB 5 and its application to trucking would end up with the Supreme Court.
"There now firmly exists a split between two Circuits on whether the 'B' prong of an ABC test can be applied to the trucking industry," he said in a statement. "There are so many 'carveouts' to AB 5 (including a voter-authorized exemption for rideshare companies) that it stretches the credulity of the state arguing that AB 5 is a law of general applicability thus immune to federal preemption."
This is the second installment of a two-part series on carriers paying for unloading services. The first installment explored the makeup of “lumper” fees. This article covers new and emerging trends in payment systems that remove headaches for carriers.
Motor carriers, especially in the refrigerated sector, are accustomed to managing payments between drivers and “lumper” services at receiving locations.
By law (49 U.S. Code Section 14103), shippers are required to reimburse carriers for paying unloading fees. As part one of this series showed, carriers want to escape being in the middle of unloading transactions because of the cash flow and administrative burdens it creates.
Much of the frustration is due to carriers using traditional cash and check payment systems that require them to send codes to drivers and chase down lumper receipts to include with their freight invoices. Approximately 10% of lumper receipts are lost, experts say, which adds to driver frustration and can be a significant expense.
New technology makes it possible to move payments for lumper services to the next level of efficiency and save drivers and motor carriers time at the dock.
Modernizing the dock
Capstone Logistics, for instance, is the largest warehouse services provider in North America with 570 sites under management for customers that include major grocers and retailers.
“We are at an important nexus within the freight industry that, coupled with our scale, provides us with a great opportunity to augment technologies and drive efficiencies,” said Ahmed Abdalla, chief technology officer of Capstone Logistics.
Capstone is working on several initiatives that will improve the payment process for carriers to pay unloading fees. One of its divisions, Capstone Fiscal Systems, specializes in point-of-sale systems for truck stops and convenience stores. It will soon have new payment options for drivers and carriers that go beyond unloading fees. Drivers can use the technology to pay for fuel, truck wash, parking and more.
Capstone also is developing new tools and processes that will help carriers reduce administrative workload. As part of this effort, it is partnering with technology startups to digitize paperwork.
Today the company offers a Direct Bill program where unloading fees are pre-paid by shippers for drivers and fleets to bypass payment. Another new program, CapstonePay, gives drivers a remote, zero-touch payment system and electronic receipts when using unloading services at Capstone-managed facilities.
“Right now, we can provide carriers with an instantaneous electronic receipt, and we are doing this on a limited basis,” Abdalla said. “We also have the ability to quickly provide further valuable information regarding damages, which we know is something that carriers need for payment processing.”
FreightWorks, a 110-truck motor carrier based in Rutherfordton, N.C., is using Relay Payments, an electronic payment system that gives carriers and freight brokers a Venmo-like experience to pay unloading fees.
Currently, fleet managers go to Relay’s website to issue payment codes. The codes are sent to the assigned driver who gives it to the lumper. The payment goes directly to the lumper service and Relay sends an automated email receipt to the carrier.
“It is super simple, but it makes a huge impact,” said Jordan Kidd, director of business intelligence.
Freightworks can pre-issue a code before the driver arrives, and Relay will pay the fee when the lumper specifies the amount in the Relay website.
Drivers have the option to install an app from Relay on their smartphone, or they can register their phone number to receive text messages when the company issues a six-digit payment code.
For FreightWorks, the payment and receipt process is now automated. Before using Relay, FreightWorks had $30,000 in lost lumper receipts that “we never got reimbursed for,” he said.
Relay has different options for digital workflow. Besides using websites and mobile apps, the payment system can be integrated with the transportation management software (TMS) that carriers and freight brokers use.
Merit Logistics, a national third-party warehouse services provider based in Southern California, recently announced that is is using Relay Payments to accept electronic payments from carriers for its unloading services. Merit Logistics is deploying Relay Payments across its nationwide network of client distribution centers.
In addition to saving time on the dock, Merit has seen how replacing paper check payments with a process that is fully electronic will enhance the profitability of their client distribution centers overall. Merit customers include some of the largest grocery and retail chains in the country.
“About 80% of our carrier receivables were previously paper checks,” explained Robert Gunderson, CFO of Merit Logistics. “With the switch to Relay Payments, we will eliminate the direct costs associated with paper check payments. The multi-step manual process of handling paper checks involves phone calls, printed receipts, related expenses, and a host of issues impacting both carriers and us.”
Several years ago, Comdata introduced a new Comchek Mobile platform that effectively made its Comchek Express money transfer system — a staple in the trucking industry for the past 40 years — into a PayPal-like system for sending and receiving electronic funds. With Comchek Mobile, funds can be transferred directly between parties by using IDs.
Shippers, brokers and carriers have traditionally used the Comchek Express system to send unique codes to drivers to give to lumpers, who would write them on paper checks that were cashable at locations in Comdata’s proprietary merchant network.
In practice, a freight broker or carrier could issue a cash advance to a driver by using the driver’s unique Comchek Mobile ID. They could also send a traditional Comdata Express Code. When a driver receives funds he or she can use the Comchek Mobile app to pay a lumper by entering the lumper's ID.
Capstone Logistics is working with visibility providers, such as project 44 and FourKites, to improve efficiency at Capstone-managed DCs. The company is using its proprietary APEX system to capture data and provide visibility to dock operations to drive 10% to 30% productivity improvements, Abdalla said.
“When we provide both warehouse services and freight management for a customer, we can take visibility even further. The integration of data and operational processes allows us to extend savings from transportation through dwell and detention time reductions, dynamic dock scheduling, and real-time activity tracking / proactive exception management,” he added.
As truck dealers (virtually) descend on Washington, D.C., Monday for the American Truck Dealers' (ATD) annual legislative fly-in, they do so with hope.
The federal excise tax (FET) of 12 percent on new medium- and heavy-duty trucks and trailers still exists, but ATD's efforts to repeal the antiquated tax continue to pick up steam. And with President Biden and legislators across the nation focused on infrastructure spending and searching for a win, ATD Chairman Steve Bassett (president, General Truck Sales), says trucking has never been closer to putting FET in its rearview mirror.
Speaking with Trucks, Parts, Service last week, Bassett says he believes dealers could be on the precipice of a substantial victory. He says ATD's behind-the-scenes discussions with representatives and senators has about FET has yet to uncover a single legislator who seems committed to keeping the tax. And while replacing FET with other funding measures won't be easy, he says legislators are starting to understand that FET's inconsistent funding nature isn't a reliable tool either, nor is it helping to modernize the nation's trucking fleet.
"If we want cleaner, safer trucks on the road, now is the time for action," Bassett says.
Tuesday Bassett and Marty Murphy, executive vice president, Automobile Dealers Association of Indiana, will be joined by Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) during the virtual event in which Young will introduce another bill to Congress to repeal FET. ATD also will host a virtual industry panel where industry experts will tout the advanced vehicle technology coming to the trucking industry, and how FET can unfortunately slow adoption rates of these safe and essential fuel-saving technologies.
Bassett says that focus on advanced technologies is one area dealers must continue to prioritize n their discussions with their congressperson this week and into the future. He says repealing FET would be a substantial step toward cleaner transportation and reducing American emissions, two priorities of the Biden Administration. Bassett says far too many commercial carriers in business today extend their lives of their equipment due to FET's arduous impact on the already growing prices of new trucks and trailers. And is even worse with new electric vehicles and low-emission equipment due to even higher acquisition costs.
"Nearly 50 percent of Class 8 trucks on the road today are over 10 years old," Bassett says. "Too many customers are forced to only buy new trucks when they absolutely need to because they are so expensive."
But even with an optimistic view for the week ahead, Bassett acknowledges America's truck dealers still have an uphill fight to ensure FET is removed in any infrastructure legislation.
ATD and the Modernize the Truck Fleet (MTF) coalition do not support any one specific funding alternative. And of the many solutions on the table, not all are supported by other segments of the transportation industry. Additionally, while an appetite for infrastructure spending is high on both sides of the aisle the two parties have far different opinions about how much money should be allocated and where it should come from.
"I think a bipartisan agreement is going to be the toughest hurdle," Bassett says.
He adds that's why this week is so important for dealers — the more MTF and ATD can get its message of repealing FET out to both sides, the more likely the two parties will include a repeal in their plans and keep a repeal if they reach a negotiation and compromise phase.
"This is it. Now is the time to get serious," Bassett says.
Trucking news and briefs for Friday, June 18, 2021:
West Coast flatbed fleet to deliver 2021 Capitol Christmas Tree
The 2021 tree will make its way to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building from the Six Rivers National Forest in California.
System Transport was selected as the hauler for this year’s tree at the recommendation of Kenworth Truck Company and based on industry reputation on the West Coast, according to Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors, the non-profit partner that assists the USDA Forest Service with coordinating the annual public engagement initiative.
“As a second-generation family-owned and operated company, Christmas is a special time of year for us”, said Dennis Williams, President and CEO, Trans-System. “We are proud to be a part of the annual tradition that brings the Christmas spirit to our nation’s capital, and to all the families who gather around their own trees to share the spirit of the season.”
The tree will be harvested in late October before making the in-state and cross-country journey, arriving at the U.S. Capitol in late November. The tree will be decorated with thousands of handmade ornaments made by Californians and will light up the nation’s Capital throughout the month of December.
System Transport first opened its doors in 1972 with one truck and trailer. It now boasts over 1,000 employees and operates more than 800 trucks. The company is headquartered in Spokane, Washington, with terminals in Caldwell, Idaho; French Camp, Fresno and Bloomington, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Olathe, Kansas; Ennis, Texas; and Gary, Indiana. They operate all types of flatbed freight primarily throughout the West Coast to the Midwest.
Peterbilt delivers first 220EV model to Alaska
As part of a groundbreaking order that included a Model 220EV and 520EV, the city of Anchorage and SWS are at the forefront of technology and sustainability and is looking to show the benefits of battery-electric commercial vehicles to the rest of the state.
“I’m proud that SWS will be putting the first production Peterbilt Model 220EV to work,” said Mark Spafford, General Manager of the Anchorage SWS. “This is a big moment for an American manufacturer and for my department. EVs are the future – they are cost effective, better for our drivers and our neighborhoods. We look forward to working with Peterbilt to share the benefits of EVs and continue to expand our electric fleet.”
The Model 220EV is Peterbilt’s first electric configuration for medium-duty applications.
Autocar partners with rental company for terminal tractors
Autocar’s advanced direct-to-customer business model and Big Truck Rental’s reach in the marketplace will provide enhanced service to fleet owners.
Autocar’s ACTT terminal tractors include the tallest, widest and deepest cab and door combination in the industry made from 100% steel; the heaviest-duty bumper that protects driver, cab and chassis in collisions; a robust hydraulics system with fast up and down speeds; four-point cab air suspension; cab soundproofing and more.
“As we look into the fragmented terminal tractor market, there are so many varied needs for small, medium and large fleet owners,” said Mark Aubry, general manager of Autocar’s Terminal Tractor division. “One of the most outstanding and critical elements needed is the support of operations to meet the ever-expanding needs of business – and this can be achieved most effectively through the strategic use of rentals.”
Cuban citizen pleads guilty to role in CDL fraud scheme
According to the indictment, from January 2017 through about June 30, 2019, Leon and two co-conspirators paid a Texas Department of Public Safety employee to falsely certify that CDL applicants had passed the skills portion of the CDL test. However, those applicants had either failed or had not taken the test.
The DPS employee provided Leon and a co-conspirator with temporary CDLs for the applicants, and DPS later mailed those individuals permanent CDLs. Leon is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 1.
Trailer manufacturers' inability to source components and building materials, coupled with price volatility, spurred a 39% drop in orders last month versus April, according to preliminary data from ACT Research.
The sequential decline in net orders was no surprise, according to ACT Research Director of Commercial Vehicle Transportation Analysis and Research Frank Maly, "as the impact of supply and staffing headwinds overcame continued strong market demand."
May's weak order activity, according to FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Don Ake, reflects that OEMs are essentially booked for the year and reluctant to quote trailers for 2022 delivery due to a spike in commodity prices and other costs.
"Some fleets may be unwilling to extend their commitments, as well," Maly added. "The combination of those concerns generates headwinds to additional order placement, and accentuates the seasonal softness that normally occurs in late spring and early summer."
While early reports indicate that OEMs did improve production rates in May, Maly said the increase was not as strong as they would prefer. "Until meaningful increases in build rates can be attained," he said, "expect order acceptance by OEMs to remain somewhat restrained.”
“The market is in a strange place right now in that the bucket for 2021 orders is almost full, but the bucket in 2022 is essentially empty," Ake added. "We expect abnormally low activity until the 2022 order boards are opened. At that point, orders should shoot back up to near-record levels.
Freight growth remains robust, and Ake said fleets continue to need more trailers than can be produced in the short-term.
"The supply chain situation improved some in May, but the industry is still scrambling to catch up," he said. "The environment is expected to improve in the second half of the year but will still impact the industry well into 2022.”
Trucking news and briefs for Friday, June 18, 2021:
More guilty pleas in New Orleans staged accident scheme
Doniesha Gibson and Erica Lee Thompson entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their roles in staging crashes with tractor-trailers.
According to the guilty pleas, Gibson admitted to being a passenger in a staged accident on Oct. 15, 2015, in which the 2014 Dodge Avenger she owned drove into a bus while traveling on I-10. Gibson retained an attorney and made a claim for damages of approximately $677,500.
Thompson admitted that on Sept. 6, 2017, on I-10, she was a passenger in her 2015 Toyota Rav4 that was intentionally driven into a tractor-trailer owned by Averitt Express. She retained counsel and made a claim for damages that settled for $30,000.
In total, the victim trucking, bus and insurance companies paid out approximately $707,500 for these two fraudulent claims orchestrated by the defendants and others.
Gibson and Thompson face a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Upon release from prison, each defendant also faces a term of supervised release of up to three years, and/or a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain to each defendant or twice the gross loss to any person under Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for November 3, 2021, before United States District Judge Sarah S. Vance.
Strong economic activity, capacity constraints impacting CV markets
While at or near the peak in terms of freight rates, ACT says the economic outlook is optimistic in anticipation of an extended runway of strong activity.
The monthly report looks at the current production, sales and general state of the on-highway heavy- and medium-duty commercial vehicle markets, detailing measures such as backlog, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders and retail sales.
“As has been the case since the start of the year, supply-chain constraints, rather than fleet/consumer demand, will be the primary determinants of how many vehicles are produced this year,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst. “While the list remains long, build expectations suggest that work-throughs are coming into place.”
Vieth adds that the semiconductor shortage is expected to continue through the end of the year, “but reports suggest improvement from here, as chip supplies are reallocated to higher-value goods producers.”
He also notes that May’s Class 8 data was as expected in terms of orders, builds, backlogs, cancellations, inventories and sales.
FMCSA boss visits NY/NJ port to discuss disruptions
Joshi met with leaders from the Port Authority, Maher Terminals, the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, and the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers to discuss prioritizing truck safety and current supply chain challenges, including trucking capacity, the historical increase in cargo volume, road congestion and more.
The visit was part of the Biden administration’s approach to addressing supply chain disruptions. Last week, the administration launched the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to help address the issues.
“The pandemic has presented unprecedented economic challenges including supply chain disruption,” Joshi said. “It’s vitally important as a nation that we address these challenges using the tools at our disposal to minimize the impacts on workers, consumers, and businesses and bolster a strong economic recovery. [Wednesday]’s visit is critical in learning directly from port leaders and motor carriers about how we can help alleviate supply chain challenges while ensuring our roadways, including the ports, remain safe for truck drivers and all road users.”
In addition to this visit, the Department of Transportation, along with the other agencies that are part of the task force, will be holding meetings this month with stakeholders to diagnose problems and develop solutions – large and small, public or private – that could help alleviate near-term transitory bottlenecks and supply constraints.
Holiday, which offers local, regional and over-the-road services, will join Heyl’s fleet of more than 400 tractors and 900 reefers.
“The acquisition of Holiday Express is a positive move for Heyl Truck Lines, Holiday Express, and for all of our employees and customers,” said Bruce Koele, Heyl’s president. “There will be many additional opportunities for qualified drivers and support staff. We are excited about the additional resources, capacity, and services that we will be able to offer to our customers as a result.”