Scaling Cleaner Freight Movement

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June 13, 2024
Observations from ACT Expo 2024

Observations from ACT Expo 2024

From Executive Director Mike Roeth

ACT Expo sure has evolved from its inception 13 years ago. Back then it seemed like we were preaching to the choir given that the majority of attendees were all in on trucking completely stepping away from fossil fuel to power commercial vehicles.

Fast forward to this year’s event and several presenters challenged that notion. I think this is a good thing. If we surround ourselves only with people who think exactly the way we do, we all may overlook some challenges that if not addressed could hinder the move to a zero-emission freight future.

The other thing I noticed about this year’s event — all the stakeholders needed to make the transition to clean transportation were in attendance, including fleets. And the fleets that were in attendance were not just looking around; they were there to get the information they needed to make a purchase decision in the short term. There was an interest and a hunger on the part of attendees. I’ve been to every ACT Expo and this one sure felt like people were here to make decisions. And that puts pressure on manufacturers and suppliers to make sure that they are ready with not only vehicles but with other components fleets will need or want to spec on their trucks.

Battery electric vehicles were not the only powertrain getting attention. It was clear from conversations with exhibitors, panelists and attendees that we are definitely in the messy middle.

I came away from the conference with a feeling that everyone is taking this move to clean transportation seriously. My advice is to make sure to look at all the technology options, match them to your use case and business model and then make your decision. But it may take a mindset shift. For decades diesel worked for every use case and application. Today there is no one powertrain that will work in all applications, assuming we want to get to zero- or near-zero emission.

From where I sit, it seems like for Class 6 and smaller trucks the middle is getting less messy with the clear option being battery electric vans, step vans, medium-duty trucks and short haul heavy tractors. For longer return-to-base routes and long-haul things are still pretty messy, but I am confident that the industry will rise to the challenge and deliver strong options for those duty cycles.

I shared many thoughts on the zero-emissions transition on stage on the last day of ACT Expo. Watch the following video for a few.

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