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ACT Research Seminar Featured Truck, Transportation and Autonomy Panels

March 01, 2022, 07:03 AM
Filed Under: Transportation

ACT Research began its 66th Seminar with a panel discussion about the current state and future of U.S. economics. Panelists included Bryan Bezold, Senior Economist at Ford; as well as ACT’s Principal, Industry Analyst, Jim Meil; and Chief Economist, Paul Traub.

The day’s activities also featured a fireside chat with the EPA’s Bill Charmley, Director-Assessment & Standards Division; a medium-duty update with Blue Bird’s Executive Director of EV Sales, Albert Burleigh, a glimpse into the OEM perspective from Andy Brown, Volvo’s Product Marketing Manager-Electromobility, and a market perspective with Ryder’s John Diez, Executive Vice President & CFO. This was in addition to market reviews by ACT’s analysts, including Steve Tam, Ann Rundle, Lydia Vieth, Tim Denoyer and Kenny Vieth.

Regarding inflation, Meil explained, “While it still looks to be a solid year ahead for the economy and for trucking, inflation is a trouble spot.” He added, “An array of factors converged last year in a ‘perfect storm’ for inflation and they are not going away any time soon. Therefore, in spite of Fed attempts to reel it in, inflation is going to stick around in a way we have not seen in more than 30 years.”

Regarding ACT’s Freight Forecast, Vice President & Senior Analyst Tim Denoyer said, “The presentation focused on how supply and demand dynamics will shift in the truckload market in 2022 and 2023. Massive restocking demand continues, but with Omicron fading, we see procyclical labor participation and improving semiconductor supply helping the transportation market to de-bottleneck in 2022.”

Discussing the North American medium duty market, Steve Tam, ACT’s Vice President, noted, “Strong demand in the medium-duty market has been frustrated by the industry’s inability to deliver vehicles. Expectations are that gradual improvements in the supply-chain situation will lead to moderate growth in production and sales in 2022. Technological development, primarily electrification of light and medium-duty commercial vehicles, is still in an embryonic state, but shows great potential.”

About the U.S. used market, Tam said, “Unprecedented demand led to record prices in 2021, and this is expected to continue in at least early 2022. As freight hauling capacity rebalances, freight rates will start to fall, pulling profits and used truck demand down with them.”

Before the day concluded, audience members heard from Ann Rundle, ACT’s Vice President of Electrification and Autonomy, as well as Research Analyst-Electrification & Autonomy, Lydia Vieth, who shared an EV forecast. Rundle said, “It was particularly rewarding to have the chance to share ACT Research’s forecast on the Global BEV and FCEV market for commercial vehicles at Seminar 66, after all the work that the team put into our CEV studies over the past 12-plus months. The advances in technology for both BEV and FCEV will bring about some significant changes in our industry over the next 20 years, and it was great to have the chance to share this with our seminar participants.” She continued, “In 2021, over 70 percent of vehicle applications have a positive TCO (total cost of ownership) for BEV compared to an ICE propulsion system, though adoption rates are still rather low at only 2 percent. With advancements in technology, by 2035 we forecast that commercial electric vehicle adoption rates will push past the tipping point of 50 percent, based on favorable TCO and investment payback considerations.”

Day two of ACT Research’s semi-annual Outlook Seminar featured two panel discussions. The first focused on truckers and transportation and included Matt Harding, Senior Vice President, Data Science at Transplace; Andrew Massaro, Procurement Manager at UPS; and ACT’s VP & Senior Analyst Tim Denoyer, with ACT’s President Kenny Vieth, moderating. Rundle moderated the second panel about autonomy and on-highway transportation, with featured guests Michael Wishart, Business Development Manager at TuSimple; Wiley Deck, Plus’ Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy; and Monika Darwish, Senior Corporate Counsel for Kodiak Robotics.

Regarding the autonomy and on-highway transportation panel, Rundle said, “ACT Research was fortunate to have three panelists representing some of the top autonomy technology providers in the commercial vehicle industry. The panelists provided excellent insight on the impact that regulations, safety, sustainability and labor considerations have on the implementation of level 4 driver-out autonomy for commercial vehicles.” She added, “Autonomous trucks that will provide level 4 actual driver-out capabilities are coming to our industry faster than many might expect. The panelists on the autonomy session were able to share for seminar participants a glimpse into the roll-out and timing considerations for driverless trucks, in an exciting and informative discussion.”

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