Oakville, ON – Volvo Trucks North America sees long haulers accounting for a shrinking portion of the truck market, as the industry responds to pressures including a driver shortage and recent upgrades to the Panama Canal. Magnus Koeck, vice president – marketing and brand management, says that share has dropped to about 43% of the marketplace compared to 50% last year. In contrast, regional haulers account for about 35% of the market as more freight is regionalized, he said during a briefing for industry media, adding the impact will be “proportionally a little larger” in the U.S. than Canada. The recently opened $5.4-billion upgrade to the canal will also allow the passage of neo-Panamax ships, which can carry 14,000 containers at a time. Many U.S. ports along the east coast of the U.S. are already expanding to accommodate them.
New Panama Canal Putting pressure on Long Haul
It isn’t the only shift he expects. Koeck also said that manual transmissions will completely give way to automation in just five years. Volvo has certainly seen a widespread adoption of its I-Shift Automated Manual Transmission, which is now spec’d in 88.8% of its trucks. While vehicle dynamics are changing, the North American market itself continues to struggle when compared to the near-record sales of 2015. Volvo expects 250,000 Class 8 trucks to be sold this year. Blame factors including large inventories at dealerships, created when manufacturers continued to produce high volumes of equipment even as the market began to slump.
Today’s Trucking, June 2016