LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – As challenging as the future will be, it’s going to be a good few years for the trucking industry.
In his annual address to the press at the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, Kentucky, Joseph McAleese, president and CEO of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, admits the industry is facing a host of challenges, including many created by government regulations, but he views these as springboards, not as roadblocks.
Noting topics of concern such as Hours of Service, CSA and the correctness of its ratings and data, the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy, the push to reduce stopping distances, the creation of stability control and collision mandates, McAleese said explained how these issues can drive industry evolution.
“We cannot overlook the impact of our active regulatory environment,” he said. “Our jobs, as leaders in the industry, are to make sure we find a way to take those regulations and provide reasonable payback to our fleets. Finding this payback and demonstrating to our customers is key in driving tremendous acceptance of our safety solutions.”
He added that when fleets can see the data proving solutions and technologies are effective and can work to save businesses money, fleet executives are keen purchase and implement those solutions, even if the technology is new or disruptive.
The willingness of fleets, especially larger ones, to spend money on verifiable improvements, is part of the reason why he’s positive in his outlook for the trucking industry, but just like fleet executives, McAleese likes to see data, and the data he’s viewing leads him to believe the industry is very healthy.
“As I sift through the facts and figures, it is clear we are on the verge of a fairly robust industry ramp-up,” he said.
“Class 8 production, in 2014, will be up 15% from 2013. And expect 2015 production to be up another 5% to 15%.
When we move on to look at the Class 8 data we see a pretty rosy picture. Truck tonnage is relatively robust. Truck tonnage is in good shape. Most importantly the operating margins of the fleets who publish data is pretty good.
“Obviously we have the factor of the driver shortage out there, but fleets have kept capacity under control, to the point where they are getting their rate increases and are making those stick, which has been good for profitability enabling them to afford new truck purchases.
“The fleets that are buying new vehicles are finding good fuel economy and improved up-times as we’ve improved the reliability of the vehicles.
“Net orders have been pretty good three months in a row, which leads me to my conclusion that we’re going to be up about 15% this year. I think demand will be there. The only question will be can we actually produce it as an industry. I know we’re ready, so bring it on.”