Looking Ahead to 2019
Forecasts Favour Growth & Change in 2019
By Marek Krasuski
As the year draws to a close, eyes are fixed on what lies ahead. In transportation expect to see changes in product development and in policy and regulations. Some industry concerns are likely to remain top priority, such as the lack of parking stops which is seen as a safety issue. Drivers are forced to park on exit ramps and anywhere they can find a space – legal or not – thereby increasing risk of accidents.
Another persistent problem is the driver shortage which, experts say, continues to be top priority. In its annual survey the ATRI (American Transportation Research Institute) cited the lack of qualified drivers as the top concern for carriers. In the wake of the driver shortage motor carriers also rank lack of flexibility in HOS rules as a policy that needs revision. As they stand the new regulations limit drivers to no more than 11 hours per day within a 14 hour work cycle. Drivers, then, cannot drive for 10 consecutive hours, a highly impractical demand, critics argue, due to issues such as traffic gridlock. ATRI is advocating for some modifications to the 10 consecutive hour rest period. They suggest splitting the 10 hours into two 5 hour periods or other time blocks to deal more effectively with traffic congestion. There may be a break for drivers in 2019 as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) considers the proposal.
Meanwhile, the mandate for electronic logging devices (ELDs), already implemented in the US, will likely come into effect in Canada sometime in 2019. With setbacks in Transport Canada’s timelines, experts believe the earliest implementation of the ELD mandate would be in the spring of next year.
Elsewhere in Canada, specifically Alberta, significant changes are underway to improve safety standards in 2019. The Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program will begin in January 2019. MELT will apply to anyone seeking licenses for tractor trailer, bus and school buses. Rules will also be beefed up for new carriers who will require a valid safety certificate and modifications to current road test models will be introduced. These initiatives were already in the planning stages but the Alberta Government prioritized them in the wake of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in which 16 people died and another 13 injured when the bus collided with a tractor trailer. The truck driver faced multiple counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Given the interest in electrified vehicles, mainly in the medium duty market, expect to see growth in demand and acquisitions. Volvo will introduce two models – the Volvo FL Electric and Volvo FE Electric – to the European market in 2019; North American sales will begin a year later but in the meantime demonstration projects are slated for 2019 in California. And according to a press release the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has preliminarily awarded $44.8 million to California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) for the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project. In January 2019 Volvo will also introduce a fuel efficiency package for the VNL 760 and VNL 860 models operating in dry van and refrigerated trailer operations. Volvo says, “The new Xceed fuel efficiency package is the most efficient package Volvo has ever offered for the VNL series, and it’s tailored for our large sleeper models operating with dry van and refrigerated trailers, which make up more than three-quarters of the trailers used in on-highway operations.” The Xceed fuel efficiency package improves fuel efficiency by up to 11 percent when compared with Volvo’s Fuel Efficiency Plus specification.
The year 2019 is likely to see the introduction of electrified semi trucks, beginning with the much anticipated Tesla Semi. Company CEO Elon Musk said the Semi will be equipped with 4 independent electric motors on rear axles – enabling torque power for 0 to 60 mph acceleration with a full load in 20 seconds. Performance metrics peg the Tesla Semi at a speed of 65 mph going up a 5% grade – about 50 percent faster than the average truck. The Rig is reported to achieve a 500 mile range, fully loaded, before recharging.
Tesla will have some competition for its Class 8 models. Peterbilt is poised to bring its own electric class 8 to market in 2019. It will partner with Meritor and Transpower which will provide electric drivetrain systems for two truck models – the class 8 Model 579 day cab tractors and Model 250 refuse trucks. Commenting on the partnership, Meritor CEO Jay Craig said, “This collaboration with Peterbilt reinforces the viability of our advanced technology and electrified solutions that are adaptable for a wide range of applications. We look forward to getting these vehicles on the road this summer.”
On the heels of recent acquisitions, notably Brammo, Johnson Matthey Battrey systems and the Silicon Valley-based Efficient Drivetrains Inc. (EDI), Cummins is accelerating the development of electrification capabilities. Under its REEV concept (range-extended electrified vehicle) a battery pack will provide a power source for the traction motor that will run a vehicle’s transmission while battery energy is replenished by the diesel engine. Batteries will be charged overnight. The 35kwh battery pack will give 2 hours of fully powered electric operation. Once the charge drops to 30 percent the engine will automatically start and recharge the battery to keep the engine running. In commenting on Cummins near term electrification objectives Executive Director Julie Furber stated: “Cummins will be investing $300 million over the next three years to continue organic and inorganic growth to develop a portfolio of alternative power units for the off-highway market, including full electric vehicles, range-extended vehicles and plug-in hybrids.”
Mack Trucks will introduce its 2019 Mack Anthem, an OTR tractor suitable for long haul, and day cab applications. The Anthem is stocked with the M-Drive automated manual transmission and boasts a 3 percent fuel efficiency improvement thanks to aerodynamic improvements that displace air to the sides as well as the hood and roof. This HE+ package, combined with the MP8 engine improves fuel efficiency by up to 9.5 percent, Mack says. The MP8HE engine has a horsepower range of 415-505 HP and 1560-1,860 lb. ft. torque. Mack says the Anthem may attract and retain drivers thanks to additional modifications that improve the overall driving experience. Newly designed seats and enhanced sleeper environment add to driver comfort. For example the Mack Anthem Sleeper has 70 inches of stand-up space, offering 35 percent more room for drivers to get comfortable, stay well rested and be in top form for a day on the road. Generous ceiling height in the cab allows the driver to stand straight up and walk directly to the sleeper without crouching.
The 2019 model year will bring in a number of new trucks, some extending from 2018, for the medium duty market. Featured among them is the Freightliner 114SD severe duty work truck suitable for many vocational applications – concrete, crane, dump, construction, fire & rescue to name a few. Like its 108 SD counterpart the 114 SD comes with application-specific features. The SD product line comes with front frame extensions suitable for PTOs, outriggers, snowplows and other uses. A low sloping hood combines with a redesigned windshield for enhanced driver visibility. The engine compartment houses the Cummins ISB, ISL and Detroit DD-13. Multiple frame rail options are available on the SD product line. Various axle and suspension configurations are available.
In 2019 Chevrolet will re-enter the medium duty market with the Silverado 4500 HD, 5500 HD and 6500 HD chassis cabs, all of which are available in regular and crew cab models. The Silverados are designed for fleet operators and commercial outfitters, suitable for dump box, utility body, flatbed and man lift operations. All will be powered by a 6.6L Duramax diesel that offers 350 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque. Allison automatic transmissions will be used with power take-off units.
Other entries into the 2019 model year are:
• Hino Model 238 medium duty truck with 23,000-pound GVW and WU 8L engine with 230 hp and 520 lb. ft. torque.
• Isuzu Class 3-6 N-Series and F-Series low cab forward truck.
• Two Kenworth cabover models ranging from Class 5 to Class 8.
• Mitsubishi gas powered truck with Verizon Connect telematics and a PSI-GM V-8 engine with 297 hp and 361 lb. ft. torque.
Regulatory changes and new product offerings in heavy duty and medium duty applications will take place in a new year buoyed by optimism, if industry forecasts accurately predict what lies ahead in the next 12 months. The research firm FTR predicts an 8 percent increase in Class 8 shipments and a higher volume in commercial trailer production. FTR concluded its assessment by saying, “We increased our forecasts for 2019 based on our models indicating continued strong freight growth generating robust demand for equipment through Q3 of next year.”☚