The drive for electric vehicles
Is operating an electric vehicle cheaper than relying on petrol and diesel? There is no clear answer to that question yet, but there is agreement that electric vehicles represent lower costs in aggregate.
“Their motors have less moving parts, require less maintenance, and have a longer expected life, says John Larkin, managing director and head of transportation capital markets research for Stifel Capital Markets, U.S. investment banking firm. “ And the cost of electricity is generally less volatile than the price of petroleum-based fuels.”
The challenge, Larkin says, is to develop batteries with enough storage capacity to allow trucks and lorries extended runs between charging. Batteries need to be light enough not to interfere with their freight hauling capacity.
Technology will continue to change the industry
Companies who stay on top of technology will be the winners. Specifically, technologies that automate labour-intensive processes will make the difference, such as freight matching, rating, billing, network optimisation, fleet management, despatch, maintenance planning and driver management. Companies relying on cloud technologies and software from AMCS are already seeing an upswing in their productivity.
Global labour shortage means automation has to evolve faster
In the UK, the Road Haulage Association and Freight Transport Association says the industry is between 45,000 and 52,000 drivers short, with another 35,000 drivers likely to retire in the next two years. In the U.S., one million drivers are needed in the next 15 years. In Germany, 40% of drivers will retire over the next 10—15 years. In India, 10% of truck and lorry fleets are unused due to a shortage of drivers.
The driver shortage, however, is symptomatic of a much larger problem in the supply chain. Labour shortages are everywhere, from warehouses to distribution and fulfilment centres. More employers will consider automation, but functions still need to automate faster to make up for the shortfall in workers. Automation will create a new problem for companies, however. While requiring fewer workers, companies will need employees with technological skills.
The ultimate aim to solve all three problems listed here: driverless, electric vehicles. That won’t be happening anytime soon, but as these challenges persist, look for them to happen quicker than we expect.
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