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FreightWaves virtual autonomous and EV summit features industry leaders

Impacts of SPAC frenzy and technology updates on tap Wednesday

The FreightWaves’ Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Summit deconstructs the wave of special purpose acquisition companies that brought many transportation startups public during the pandemic. 

Vince Cubbage, CEO of Tortoise Acquisition Corp., has brought two of those companies public. He is seeking a target for a third SPAC. Cubbage keynotes the second annual (mostly) virtual AEV Summit on Wednesday. 

Cubbage sees a correlation between a lack of business travel during the pandemic and sports gamblers with fewer games to bet as contributors to he frenzy.

“When you looked at the suspension of professional sports and the amount of capital that normally flows into those channels and the market participants in those channels, looking for an alternative way to have the same level of activity, but to find a different thing to bet on,. There was a ton of speculation in SPACs,” Cubbage said.

The virtual event features several live look-ins from FreightWaves freightcasters, including a summit-themed edition of What the Truck?!?  

Autonomous perspectives

Don Burnette, co-founder and CEO of autonomous trucking software developer Kodiak Robotics, will do a live fireside chat. He and Detroit Bureau Chief Alan Adler will explore the gaps remaining to commercialize autonomous trucks. 

Kodiak’s recent moves include securing an investment from Pilot Company for an autonomous hub in the Atlanta area. It also has simplified mapping system to guide trucks that eventually will have no human in the cab.

Separately, Plus co-founder and COO Shawn Kerrigan will make the case for enhanced advanced driver assistance systems.. Kerrigan and Plus are racking up tens of millions of driver-supervised miles before attempting to let the robots take over.

Mike Taylor, general manager of global powertrain integration at Cummins Inc. will explain the engine make’s involvement with multiple autonomous trucking companies. Cummins is taking the role of making sure the engine and transmission successfully communicate with autonomous hardware and software.

Approaches to electrification

Electrification from medium- to heavy-duty trucks receives a lot of attention. Daimler Truck North America’s Rakesh Aneja, discusses how his company is adding large orders for Class 8 electric trucks. That includes an 800-unit order from Sysco Corp., while investing tens of millions of dollars in truck-charging infrastructure.

Repowering existing chassis to run on electricity is a major thrust of Lightning eMotors. CEO Tim Reeser talks with Modern Shipper’s Jack Daleo.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ree Automotive CEO Daniel Barel speaks with Sam Abuelsamid of Guidehouse Insights. Ree is collaborating to offer electronics to the four corners of its skateboard chassis for double the regenerative braking capability.

Bill Blem, senior vice president of fleet operations at NFI, and Rob Reich, Schneider executive vice president and chief administrative office, discuss their early experiences integrating electric trucks into drayage hauling in Southern California.

Ann Rundle, vice president of ACT Research, talks with Washington correspondent John Gallagher about the status of regulations affecting autonomous trucks. They’ll also cover the incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that could help electrification. 

Wiley Deck, vice president of government affairs and public policy at Plus, and Locomation vice president of policy Finch Fulton also weigh in.

Hydrogen economy

As president Energy at Nikola Corp., Pablo Koziner, set in motion the early execution of a hydrogen infrastructure. He also talks about the IRA as a potential win for hydrogen that could cut its pricethe price per kilogram. Cost is one of the barriers to adoption of fuel-cell technology.

See the full agenda and register for free.  

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Schneider (No. 7) and NFI (No. 33).

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.