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Fleet Complete’s Kar talks major trends impacting trucking industry at Transparency 2019

The rise of urbanization is forcing the trucking industry to reexamine its business practices as there are major transformational shifts currently affecting the heavy-duty truck market.

That was the message from Sandeep Kar, chief strategy officer of Fleet Complete, during his presentation at Transparency 2019, a three-day freight technology event at the Georgia International Conference Center in Atlanta.

Fleet Complete is a Toronto-based telematics and driver management software provider with operations in North America, Europe and Australia.

“We are experiencing the biggest mass migration of human beings in the history of this planet in the form of urbanization.

Kar said the global population is around seven billion people with nearly 3.5 billion living in cities. That number is expected to rise to 10 billion people, with seven billion living in cities by 2050.

Urbanization is driving the following eight major transformational shifts in the trucking industry today.

Digitalization is the most dominant, pervasive and important mega-trend in our industry, Kar said.

The industry’s focus on autonomous trucking is also a very important shift that is happening and “could have a cascading impact on all corners” of the trucking industry, he said.

“It changes the fundamental nature of what drives the truck,” he said. “The driver will be documenting different responsibilities in the future, some of which will actually have profound implications on fleet productivity, fleet efficiency and fleet effectiveness.

The rise of “value trucks” has been a major driver of truck sales in emerging markets in China and India. Value trucks have more comfort and conveniences than some of the lower-end trucks that were used in those countries 15 to 20 years ago, Kar said.

“These trucks are now the major growth driver for truck sales in emerging markets,” Kar said. “It’s great news for us in North America because once [truck makers] design our trucks here, we can design once, test once and now sell all around the world.”

Platformization is another transformational shift impacting the trucking industry. All major truck makers now have global platforms like Daimler. For example, its top-selling Freightliner Cascadia is similar to the Mercedes-Benz Actros under the hood, but the trucks look very different from the outside, Kar said. The Actros isn’t sold in the U.S.

“So, there is more platformization happening, which means the same telematics solution or service that Daimler offers in North America will be the same as in Japan or Africa,” Kar said.

The rise of e-commerce and last-mile delivery in urban areas has led the major truck manufacturers to design city trucks, which are specifically designed for shipping and delivery in heavily populated areas.

“There is a new breed of trucks that are coming out that is facilitating urban trucking,” he said.

Brazil, Russia, India and China were once the fastest growing economies, but the shift has turned to countries like Mexico and Vietnam.

“This is where more and more focus is shifting now in terms of product planning and designing for global markets, he said.

Kar said the rise of economic growth in many Asian markets has spurred some Chinese and Indian truck makers to compete with major global truck manufacturers in emerging markets.

“They have entered the market, the low end of the market, but they are creating unique positions and eventually will grow from there,” he said.

The final major trend is the evolution of dealerships and their inventory shift from only selling new trucks around 10 years ago to primarily having used trucks on their lots.

“Sales of used trucks, services and maintenance and parts are generating more and more revenues for dealerships and that’s changing the way that dealerships interact with original equipment manufacturers,” Kar said.

Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 14 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected]