Trucking industry executives pointed to the reduction of fossil fuel use and carbon emissions as the top change coming to the trucking sector over the next 10 years, followed by labour shortages as a close second. The sentiments were captured in a survey conducted by Nanos Research between April and May.
In total, the 36 senior executives interviewed for the survey represented companies which operated over 39,000 trucks, employed over 40,000 full and part-time employees, and transported over 2.2 million loads in 2021.
Here is what they had to say about the opportunities and challenges these top two changes will present in the years to come:
#1 Phasing Out of Fossil Fuels
Most senior executives (23 out of 36) cited the electrification of the trucking industry and phasing out of fossil fuels as the top change in the next 10 years. They say they expect electric trucks to become more popular for shorter routes and local destinations, but the technology could remain harder to utilize for longer haul deliveries, while others say that there will be strong pressure to reduce emissions.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance is raising with the Government of Canada opportunities to develop programs and pilots that involve the utilization of non-diesel, zero-based emission technology, for long-haul and return-to-base operations. In the shorter term, CTA is also discussing with the Government of Canada to develop programs that will provide more immediate benefits for fleets and owner-operators across Canada by cutting GHGs through reduced fuel consumption – at a time when diesel prices are at an all-time high, leading to inflationary impacts throughout the supply chain and, ultimately, increasing the cost of goods for Canadian consumers.
These shorter-term projects include support on technologies designed to reduce idling from trucks, reduce emissions from refrigerated trailers and work with the customers of bulk carriers to explore the removal of blowers/vacuums from trucks and have them installed in customer yards to further reduce emissions and make the bulk sector more efficient.
#2 Labour Shortages
Labour shortages was mentioned as the next important issue affecting the industry long-term (14/36). Trucking executives that mentioned the continuation of labour shortages say they expect many current truckers to retire, leaving the industry short of truck drivers to meet transportation service demand. The struggle to find new drivers will need to be addressed or it will continue to put a major stress on the supply chain.
The Canadian trucking industry has about 23,000 truck driver job vacancies right now and that number is expected to grow to 55,000 by 2024.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Government of Canada are discussing within the Supply Chain Summit to address the systemic labour shortages in the trucking sector. CTA believes that through more sustained driver training funding, immigration programs and enforcement of gross labour abuses through the Driver Inc. scheme, the impact of the driver shortage on the supply chain and consumers can be mitigated over the next decade.