AUSTIN, Texas—Trucking industry leaders descended upon the Lone Star State this week for the year's last major industry trade show. American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition showed off some of the latest vehicles and technologies as the industry looks to balance out decarbonization pushes with realistic powertrain advancements.
Andrew Boyle, co-president of Boyle Transportation in Billerica, Massachusetts, was elected ATA’s 79th chairman during its Board of Directors meeting.
“It is a tremendous privilege to be chosen by my peers in the trucking industry to be ATA chairman,” Boyle said. “Being selected to serve the millions of hardworking men and women who make up this great industry is an incredible honor, and I’m excited to take on this challenge.”
Boyle succeeds outgoing chairman Dan Van Alstine, president and COO of Ruan Transportation Management Systems (No. 32 on the FleetOwner 500: For-Hire list). The board also elected Dennis Dellinger of Cargo Transporters in Hickory, North Carolina, as ATA first vice chairman and Greg Hodgen of Groendyke Transport in Enid, Oklahoma, as ATA second vice chairman. The ATA board also named Wes Davis of Big M Transportation in Blue Mountain, Mississippi, ATA vice chairman. It re-elected John M. Smith of CRST International Holdings as secretary and John A. Smith of FedEx Ground as treasurer.
“Andrew’s ability to share his vision for the trucking industry is inspiring,” said ATA President and Chief Executive Chris Spear. “He is the kind of forward-thinking leader our industry and association need at this time of accelerating change and uncertainty.”
It’s the economy, trucking
Spear drew attention earlier in the week for his fiery speech that took on unions and California regulators. Noting all the carbon-cutting progress the trucking industry has made this century, the ATA leader said the trucking industry's emission-cutting progress needs to be realistic and attainable—or the U.S. economy will be in peril.
The trucking economy is undergoing a correction as more carriers leave the market amid softening freight markets after the pandemic boom at the start of the decade. But ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said fleets shouldn’t expect a return to 2021 freight volumes and high rates next year.
“We are going to continue to see more supply leaving this industry and, even though demand is not going to pick up much, a couple quarters from now, things are definitely going to start to feel a little bit better for you,” Costello said during his annual MCE presentation.
The American Transportation Research Institute reports that the economy is the industry’s biggest concern. On the conference's opening day, ATRI President Rebecca Brewster unveiled the results of its annual study of the top issues facing the trucking industry, according to more than 4,000 stakeholders.
The economy jumped from No. 5 in 2022 to lead the 2023 trucking issues list. The top five issues included truck parking, fuel prices, driver shortage, and driver compensation. (Read more about the rest of the Top 10 and see how carriers and drivers differ on the significant issues heading into 2024).
ATA leaders share challenges and progress
Electric vehicles also debuted in ATRI’s Top 10 issues this year. Several educational sessions during MCE focused on how fleets can approach alternative fuel and EVs in the coming years.
Bison Transport (No. 68 on the FleetOwner 500: For-Hire list) and WattEV leaders discussed the possibilities and perils of electrifying fleets, such as unexpected costs, charging infrastructure planning, and maintenance.
Another panel looked at the various alternative options for powering trucks—including battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cells to help fleets learn what might work best to power their operations.
Attendees also learned more about how less-informed swing voters are poised to decide the 2024 presidential election.
“Anything can happen in 13 months,” Rich Thau, co-founder and president of messaging consultancy Engagious, said during his MCE presentation. “My one prediction, and I’ll be very careful about this, would be that if both Trump and Biden are in the same general good health at the time of the election, and if they're both the nominees, then you're going to have an extraordinarily close election. Extraordinarily close.”
More technology and advanced equipment on display
On the crowded exhibition hall floor at the Austin Convention Center, most OEMs showed off their latest offerings and more. The “more” included a European DAF cabover heavy-duty truck between Peterbilt equipment and Kenworth trucks in the Paccar area. Volvo Trucks North America also showed off its futuristic SuperTruck 2 for the first time in public after announcing the previous week the efficiency gains the Department of Energy-inspired truck achieved.
Mack Trucks, Hyliion, and Nikola Motors also offered ride-alongs in their alternative-powered trucks through the streets of downtown Austin during the conference.
Here are some of the announcements FleetOwner covered during the show. There will be more follow-up coverage after several busy days in Austin that will be added to the FleetOwner ATA MCE page:
- Navistar Financial leaders detailed their plans to help fleet customers acquire and fund new equipment that runs on the International S13 Integrated Powertrain and battery-electric vehicles. Read more…
- Volvo Group’s Mack and Volvo trucks also announced new fleet management technology that builds upon the two OEMs’ connected vehicle services. Read more…
- Clarience Technologies is making its Fus1on data platform commercially available to customers external to the company, representatives announced during a press conference. Read more…
- Netradyne introduced Driver•i One, a safety solution built around a video telematics device with a wide range of fleet management and compliance capabilities. Read more…
- Video safety and telematics provider Lytx rolled out hazardous weather alerts for all customers as a project within the Lytx Lab. Read more…
View American Trucking Associations’ 2023 Management Conference & Exhibition photo gallery by clicking “Start Slideshow” at the top of the page.