Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) released the Future of Trucking Report late in 2020 after conducting extensive research in Australia. The report covers a number of topics including changing buyer preferences, ownership costs, technology and chain of responsibility.
So, what do truck fleets want?
It does depend on fleet size, though there is a trend towards more fuel efficient trucks that are pre-built (ready to drive away from the dealership) and can be driven by a larger range of potential employees that are outside of the traditional employment pool.
Electric trucks are covered and 68% of respondents believe they will play a role in the future, though only 10% are prepared for the changeover with infrastructure being their main concern.
Looking at the specific attitudes towards electric trucks mentioned by respondents, the concerns with charge time, performance and infrastructure are similar to the feedback from Fleet Managers of passenger car fleets several years ago.
The slow adoption of electric cars compared to overseas markets is mentioned and the report suggests a transition to electric trucks will lag behind the uptake in passenger vehicles.
Grant Cooper, Chief of Strategy at IAL, suggested the transition to alternate power sources is starting to be better understood by customers.
Cooper stated in the report that, “Until such time that battery density significantly and safely improves, behavioural change is required by customers to meet the needs of their business. Change takes time.”
When buying new trucks, the key considerations are:
- Improve fuel efficiency
- A preference for turn-key solutions
- A continuation in the shift away from manual transmissions
- Safety and compliance issues
- Considerations of industry labour shortages
The cost of fuel is the main challenge for all sized truck fleets over the next 12 months so improved fuel efficiency in new truck purchases is the top priority.
Turn-key solutions refer to pre-built truck bodies that can be driven away from the dealership and put to work the next day. This changes as the fleet size increases and more specific requirements from customers, or industry regulations, require unique solutions. Overall, 65% of businesses surveyed would prefer a pre-built truck compared to a custom-built body.
Simon Humphries, Chief Engineer, Product Strategy, at IAL indicates that the changing workforce is influencing the products produced by truck manufacturers.
“No longer are we employing simply drivers or warehouse workers,” says Humphries. “We are seeking multi-talented individuals as adept in customer service and familiar with the latest technology as they are with the operation of high-cost capital equipment.”
“And that equipment is also evolving to answer the industry’s continually changing needs. The vast majority of truck purchases today are safer, more economical, two pedal models with generous in-cab appointments and equipment, representing modern workplaces with technology and constant connectivity at the driver’s fingertips.”
“Market demand for ‘car-like’ appointments and operation has driven the inclusion of these features in the product development process.”