Fuel Efficiency and Emerging Technology | Weekly News Update

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Average MPG Up 2 Percent among 20 Top Fleets

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) released their 2018 Annual Fleet Fuel Study that highlighted twenty participating fleets achieving an average fuel efficiency of 7.28 miles per gallon (MPG) in 2017.  This is about 2% higher than the 2016 average of 7.14 MPG.  The fleets operated 71,844 tractors and 236,292 trailers which result in fuel savings of over $600 million compared to the national average fuel efficiency of 5.91 MPG.  The participating fleets were large, well-managed carriers including UPS, CR England, Schneider, Werner, XPO Logistics and more.

Emerging Technology in Transportation

Multiple stories came out this week regarding battery electric vehicles (BEV), hydrogen electric vehicles (HEV), and autonomous vehicles (AV).  On Monday, the Tesla Semi was spotted at a J.B. Hunt facility.  The semi drove 1,800 miles from Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada to J.B. Hunt in Lowell, AK.  The semi traveled alone using the existing Tesla Supercharger network and an extension cord.  It was not accompanied by an escort or support vehicles.  On the other side of the electric vehicle race, Nikola announced a 3-day event early next year to showcase the Nikola One hydrogen semi.  The showcase will highlight the technologies and capabilities of the truck.

On the autonomous vehicle front, Toyota announced they are investing $500 million in Uber as a part of an agreement for the companies to work jointly on autonomous vehicles.  As apart of the agreement, Uber will integrate its self-driving technology into Toyota Sienna minivans and will be used in Uber’s ride hailing network.  The investment will help Uber seek lower development costs, improve safety, and lower transportation costs.  This investment comes a few months after Uber stalled its driverless car program after killing a pedestrian in Arizona.

In Other News


Transport Topics: Robots Take on the Final Mile

Sidewalk delivery robots already are a reality in some cities, on college campuses and large corporate business parks. Such autonomous delivery services are fast becoming another potential disrupter in the landscape of new technologies trying to redraw the map for final-mile urban delivery.


CCJ: Tesla Semi spotted at J.B. Hunt, 1,800 miles from its Nevada home

Prototypes of Tesla’s all-electric Semi are beginning to make stops across the U.S., including layovers at some of the company’s key would-be customers.  Lowell, Ark.-based J.B. Hunt played host last week to the tractor, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk says “was driven across the country alone (no escort or any accompanying vehicles), using the existing Tesla Supercharger network and an extension cord.”

Transport Topics: US, Mexico Agree on New Trade Deal

President Donald Trump said he would terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement and sign a new trade accord with Mexico, potentially leaving Canada out of the bloc. Trump announced the agreement with Mexico in a hastily arranged Oval Office event Aug. 27 with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joining by conference call.

CCJ: Nikola Set to Showcase Hydrogen Truck at 3-Day Event Next Year

Nikola Motor Company’s (NMC) hydrogen electric semi-truck will take centerstage early next year as the cornerstone of a three-day event the company will use to showcase its capabilities and technologies.

WSJ: Toyota Investing $500 Million in Uber in Driverless Car Pact

Toyota Motor Corp. is set to invest about $500 million in Uber Technologies Inc. as part of an agreement by the two companies to work jointly on driverless-vehicle development.

Industrial Distribution: U.S. Rig Count Continues Sluggish Summer, Falls By 13 As Oil Recovers

The active U.S. rig count’s overall sluggish performance this summer continued last week, falling by 13 to match a 17-week low while the price of oil had a healthy climb.


FreightWaves: Mexico Instates First Ever Hours of Service Regulations

Mexico will enact a law regulating truck drivers’ hours of service this week. It is the first law of its kind in Mexico, as driving time has never been managed on the federal level before.  Prior to the new regulations, HOS rules were set by individual transportation companies and varied widely.

Journal of Commerce: US Shipping Industry: Tariffs Will Crimp Demand, Increase Equipment Costs

Port authorities, chassis providers, and cargo owners testified in a week of hearings about how tariffs on Chinese-made goods would hurt ocean and surface transportation in the United States. The majority of those testifying outlined how tariffs would hurt the international supply chain, although North American chassis manufacturers backed protectionist measures. 

Transport Topics: New Rule Gives Small Railroads Option to Use Automated HOS Record Keeping

The Federal Railroad Administration issued a final rule to allow small railroads and their contractors to comply with employee federal hours-of-service record-keeping regulations using automated systems rather than paper records.

WSJ: Iran Struggles to Rein in Illicit Trade in Dollars

Citizens in Iran are resorting to using the U.S. dollar as the government in Tehran faces increasing pressure from tightening U.S. sanctions and a faltering domestic economy.  A steep plunge in the value of Iran’s currency has led to a spike in demand for dollars in recent months from Iranians seeking safer assets. On Tuesday, one dollar bought 107,000 rials, compared with 43,000 rials in January.

Journal of Commerce: Stalled BNSF’s LA-LB Port Facility Gets Push Forward

Construction of BNSF Railway’s long-delayed near-dock rail transfer yard in Southern California may be able to move forward next year with the announcement that the Port of Los Angeles and BNSF will comply with a court order to address deficiencies in the five-year old environmental impact report on the project.

WSJ: Iran’s Oil Exports Dropping Faster Than Expected Before U.S. Sanctions

Iran oil shipments are declining at a faster-than-expected pace ahead of U.S. sanctions set to begin in November.  Iran expects crude exports to fall by a third in September with purchasing plans, potentially posing an unforeseen supply risk to markets.


FreightWaves: Average MPG Up 2 Percent among 20 Top Fleets as Fuel-Efficient Technology Deployment Grows

After remaining flat in 2015-16, the average fleet fuel economy for the nation’s top fleets improved in 2017. The 2018 Annual Fleet Fuel Study found that the 20 participating fleets achieved an average fuel economy of 7.28 mpg in 2017, up about 2% from 2016’s numbers, compared to the national fleet average of 5.91 mpg.

CCJ: With Truckers Concerned Over Job Loss With Autonomous Trucks, FMCSA Says Jobs May Change, Not Go Away

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials during a listening session at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas last week encouraged truck drivers to keen an open mind regarding autonomous trucks and automated driving systems.

CCJ: Sixty Companies to California Governor: Pass Clean Truck Weight Bill

In a letter, 60 companies and organizations – including Cummins, Tesla, Trillium, Agility, Southern California Edison, and Pacific Gas & Electric – have joined forces to urge California Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a bill that would encourage more big rigs powered by clean fuels to operate on California highways and roads.  The proposed bill, however, would increase the weight limit for ZE and NZE trucks to 82,000 pounds and thereby improve the business case for cleaner trucks.

WSJ: In America’s Hottest Drilling Spot, Gas Is Going Up in Smoke

In America’s busiest oil field, roughly $1 million worth of natural gas is burned away every day, going to waste.  Shale drillers in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico say they have no way to move the gas—a byproduct of oil drilling—to market because there aren’t enough natural-gas pipelines. Instead, they are getting rid of the excess gas by setting it on fire, a practice known as flaring.

WSJ: Colorado Measure Would Make Most of State Off Limits to Drillers

Colorado voters in November will decide whether to ban oil-and-gas drilling near their homes and other spaces. The measure could make most of the U.S.’s seventh largest oil-producing state off limits to energy firms.

WSJ: California Lawmakers Vote to Mandate Carbon-Free Electricity Generation

California passed legislation Tuesday that would make it the first large state to mandate completely carbon-free electricity generation, with a target of 2045.  Though the bill sets the most ambitious carbon-free goals in the nation, it doesn’t specify how California would get there.


FreightWaves: Intermodal Uptick Leads to More Investment in Technology Aimed at Dray Carriers

A nationwide shortfall in long-haul truck drivers is pushing more freight to intermodal service. But like its over-the-road cousin, short-haul trucking faces a tight labor market and limits on service hours. Those factors are prompting start-up firms to address what they see as an inefficient market for intermodal and drayage service in the U.S.

Bloomberg: Iran Says It Will Block Middle East Oil Exports If It Can’t Ship

Iran will halt Middle East oil exports if it’s not allowed to ship its crude through the Strait of Hormuz, according to a top military official. If the Islamic Republic can’t use the Strait for its oil exports, “there will be no security for others either and no other crude will be exported from this region.”


FreightWaves: Ocean Carriers Gain on Cutbacks, Tariff Fears as Rates Head Higher into September

Containership markets are tightening deep in the third quarter as ocean freight rates are set for more increases in September. Market watchers say the service reduction cuts from the container lines are paying off as shipper demand moves into its seasonal peak.

This weekly publication is designed to highlight relevant industry news to provide professionals in the transportation, supply chain, and energy sectors with up-to-date information in a rapidly changing marketplace. This update is purely a compilation of industry news and as such, does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Breakthrough. We do not warrant or guarantee accuracy or completeness of information. For additional information, please contact us at info@breakthroughfuel.com.

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