Today’s Pickup: 48th Earth Day, trucking, and the environment

Good day,

Yesterday, April 22, was the 48th Earth Day, an annual event demonstrating support for environmental protection, which was first celebrated in 1970. It’s worth reflecting on some of the changes the transportation and logistics industry has experienced since then. For starters, heavy-duty trucks are about 99% cleaner than 1970 models in terms of common pollutants like hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate emissions.

According to the EIA, the average fuel efficiency for heavy-duty trucks in 1970 was 5.5 mpg; by 2010 that figure had risen to 6.4 mpg. FreightWaves has reported on recent studies like Run on Less that have proven drivers can achieve 10 mpg in modern vehicles. And companies like Tesla and Thor are now building completely electric semis, which, if they prove commercially viable, will further reduce the transportation industry’s contribution to green house gas emissions.

Did you know?

According the most recent CarrierLists survey, carriers reported that 88% of their loads came through contact with shippers and brokers, as opposed to load boards or apps.


“We are seeing developers pushing towards higher clear height, bigger footprints, and more volume inside the building. Users are asking for construction where they can make much better and more efficient use of all the spaces in the building—not only the footprint but also the height. The looks of buildings haven’t changed much; it has just gotten bigger, taller, and lighter.”

-David Egan, CBRE’s Global Head of Industrial & Logistics Research, on developments in warehousing

In other news:

Volvo Trucks plans to share electric truck battery tech across brands

Sweden’s Volvo AB said it would “absolutely” make sense for its brands—which include Japan’s UD Trucks, Sweden’s Scania and Mack Trucks in the United States—to share battery technology. (Reuters)

Why working on the railroad comes with a $25,000 signing bonus

Railroad workers are being offered signing bonuses of up to $25,000 to join BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Corp. as the freight railroads struggle to fill jobs in a historically tight labor market. (WSJ)

Heavy volume of US crude oil exports to hit Europe in May-Jun, on wide Brent/WTI spread

Market sources estimated US exports to Europe would average 800,000 b/d between mid-May and mid-June, including 25 million barrels in May overall. (Hellenic Shipping News)

FedEx to link Guangzhou and Memphis hubs

FedEx Express has launch a new route connecting its Asia Pacific hub in Guangzhou with its global Memphis hub. Initially, an MD-11 freighter is being used for the five-times-per-week route, but it will be replaced with a B777 freighter in May, to meet increasing shipping demand. (Air Cargo News)

How China is buying its way into Europe

China now owns Greece’s largest port, in Piraeus, and is working on a stake in Euromax Terminal Rotterdam BV. China has bought or invested in European assets amounting to at least $318 billion over the past 10 years. (Bloomberg)

Final Thoughts:

Last Thursday’s JOC webinar featuring Lee Klaskow and Jeff Tucker presented some surprising data about the driver shortage—or lack thereof—in the trucking industry. Trucking employment has grown 32% since 2012, with a massive 89.9% increase in the number of very small fleets with 1-6 trucks. It appears that the ‘driver shortage’ is actually a localized phenomenon, specific to the very large fleets with more than 500 trucks, which have only grown about 20% in the same period.

Why is running independent or driving for a tiny fleet so much more appealing than driving for a very large carrier? One answer may be in the digital technology, including mobile apps, that are giving drivers greater visibility into freight markets and letting them pick their shots, so to speak. Truck drivers are famous for their independence, and it appears that many of the drivers who have entered the industry in the past 6 years prefer to take risks and make their own money instead of answering to dispatchers.

Hammer down everyone!

Show More

John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.