The Month in Transportation – October

By John Halpin | Associate Account Director

Welcome to our latest review of news from across the transportation world.

Every month, we’ll share interesting links, thoughts and more about the transformation of transportation.

Supply chain delays continue. Will Christmas be canceled?

Just kidding. Nobody’s canceling Christmas. But you might want to get an early jump on your Thanksgiving turkey.

If you pay attention to news – any news – you’ve heard about supply chain delays. According to Bloomberg, 77 percent of the world’s ports are experiencing abnormally long turn times. As of last week, approximately 100 cargo ships were waiting offshore to enter the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Both ports have agreed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week in an attempt to relieve the backlog.

Why is this happening? It’s not just the ports. A shortage of workers across supply chains has been cited by many. This article in Fortune explains in more detail how most supply chain analysts point to just-in-time manufacturing as the main culprit. Whatever the reasons, this problem won’t disappear overnight.

Help wanted: Truck drivers – lots of them – can apply

Speaking of that worker shortage, the American Trucking Association estimates that the industry is short by approximately 80,000 drivers, with that number set to double by 2030. According to ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello, a particular pain point is the lack of long haul drivers, who haul freight for more than 400 miles per day.

“So, this tells me this is all about lifestyle,” said Costello. “Drivers that get home daily, nightly, those jobs are increasing. Where we are not adding drivers is the long haul, over-the-road drivers. That’s where the problem lies.”

Driverless in Seattle

Amazon’s self-driving car unit, Zoox, will soon start testing its autonomous vehicles in downtown Seattle. Zoox plans to test drive up to four Toyota Highlanders retrofitted with the company’s autonomous driving technology and sensors.

Human drivers will be in the cars to take the wheel in the event of possible collisions, but transportation safety advocates aren’t satisfied, raising concerns about lax oversight and crashes in other tests.

“Seattle is not a hot spot of autonomous vehicle engineering yet. But it’s absolutely a hotbed of computer scientists in general,” said Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and chief technology officer. “Seattle’s weather is also a big reason to start here, to put the Zoox vehicle through inclement weather testing and see how water impacts the sensors.”

Making battery cells closer to home

According to CNBC, automakers are investing to move battery cell production to their home countries in order to meet increasing demand for electric vehicles. Per the article:

“Automakers from Detroit to Japan plan to simplify supply chains to lower costs, ease logistics and avoid massive disruptions. A global shortage of semiconductor chips has highlighted the industry’s reliance on overseas manufacturers for the parts.”

In forecasts from consulting forms, AlixPartners expects 28 percent of global vehicles to be EVs by 2030, while LMC Automotive expects one-third of new vehicle sales in the U.S. to be EVs by the same time.

Ride ‘em, Cowboy!

The Micromobility America conference was held in late September, and this GreenBiz blog post does a good job of summarizing the highlights. One that looked pretty cool to the author (and to us) was the Cowboy e-bike. The bike has no gears, but instead has an automatic assistance feature that adjusts power based on pedal pressure exerted by the rider. A connected mobile phone app helps you power the bike on, track ride data, navigate rides and connect with fellow Cowboy riders.

The Cowboy C4 can be pre-ordered for $1,990.

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