217912339 | Lacheev | Dreamstime.com
More in the trucking industry are willing to work collaboratively to achieve a common goal.

Roeth: The road to a cleaner freight future is paved with collaboration

June 12, 2024
The trucking industry has always been collaborative. But as we continue through these transformational times, we will have to work on a much broader scale with people and entities who don’t understand trucking—yet.

Collaboration usually occurs when one or more entities face a tough problem and/or want to achieve a goal. Some people shy away from collaboration because they don’t want to share information with anyone, and information sharing is a huge part of it. Others might say, “Of course, we are collaborating,” when really, they aren’t.

So, it was very interesting to hear Martin Lundstedt, president and CEO of Volvo Group, talk about the need for collaboration when announcing Volvo’s technology partnership with Daimler Truck

"Given the rapid transformation of our industry, it makes sense to collaborate to accelerate development, increase volumes, and share cost,” he said. “Software-defined heavy-duty trucks represent a paradigm shift in the transformation of our industry."

See also: Volvo Group, Daimler Truck plan joint venture for standard digital platform

To start with, he sure is right about this being a time of rapid transformation for the trucking industry. Today, fleets are faced with a variety of powertrain options from both legacy OEMs and newcomers.

Unlike diesel, which has a well-established fuel network, the infrastructure has yet to be built out for some of the other powertrain options. Various entities are working on it, but we are not yet at the point where there is a charging station on every corner.

Fleets need to work with a whole host of new players as they navigate the transition. These include utility companies, architect and engineering firms, jurisdictional authorities, landlords, charging station manufacturers, charge management companies, and more. Issues surrounding easements, permitting, and the public right of way, to name a few, also exist.

Today, getting fully powered trucks on the road extends well beyond the relationship of the truck maker, the dealer, and the fleet. The successful integration of alternative-fueled trucks into the fleet relies on precise orchestration between various entities.

In my experience, the trucking industry has always been collaborative, but as we continue through these transformational times (also known as the messy middle), we are going to have to collaborate on a much broader scale with folks we’ve never brought to the party before.

See also: Taking the first step to complete the infrastructure marathon

This is going to require some patience and a fair amount of education, as we will need to explain trucking terms to non-trucking folks and learn new terms or alternative definitions of existing terms from utility companies and others that are going to be critical to a fleet’s success.

I think it is very interesting that Volvo and Daimler have formed a joint venture, given that they both compete for truck sales from fleets. But in this case, the benefits to both parties of working together on a software-defined vehicle platform made more sense than going down that path separately. For this project, they are willing to work collaboratively to achieve a common goal.

Others in the trucking industry should consider this. For example, does it make sense for several fleets located in proximity to each other to work together on a charging solution that will benefit all of them? I can’t answer that, but I do know that transformational times require innovative solutions. Perhaps we will see more collaboration between competitors as we move toward a cleaner freight future. I look forward to seeing which partnerships develop.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Going Mobile: Guide To Starting A Heavy-Duty Repair Shop

Discover if starting a heavy-duty mobile repair business is right for you. Learn the ins and outs of licensing, building, and marketing your mobile repair shop.

Expert Answers to every fleet electrification question

Just ask ABM—the authority on reliable EV integration

Route Optimization Mastery: Unleash Your Fleet's Potential

Master the road ahead and discover key considerations to elevate your delivery performance

Leveraging telematics to get the most from insurance

Fleet owners are quickly adopting telematics as part of their risk mitigation strategy. Here’s why.