Happy New Year and welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? newsletter presented by Parade. In this issue, Q1 outlook for inland and ocean; stranded on I-95; why The Rock is tweeting about supply chain; and more.
New year, same look
Getting used to it — While most of us may have entered ’21 with a hint of optimism, we exited the year getting crushed by a 40-foot container filled with realism. With yet another COVID variant raging, spot rates up 31% in ’21 and contract rates pushing further upwards, getting a load pulled this quarter may cost you as much as ever. Thank you, sir, may I have another?
Labored labor — With vaccine mandates looming and truckers threatening to quit like Antonio Brown in the middle of a game, large fleets hope a special session by the Supreme Court this Friday will shed some light on the issue. Mandates aren’t the only concern in trucking labor this year. As FreightWaves’ John Kingston points out, “The biggest development in the issue of worker classification in 2022 may get pushed to 2023. If it doesn’t, it will have enormous ramifications.”
Capacity for capacity — The cavalry is coming but not anytime soon. The current backlog for new class 8 semis is 13 months. If you bought yourself a new truck for Christmas, don’t expect to see it until February of next year! It isn’t just a chip issue, it’s an “everything shortage” as Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst, told FreightWaves’ Alan Adler. That means that current fleets have to push off maintenance and deal with longer and more expensive repair cycles due to a lack of everything from tires to critical components.
Same ship, different day
Pass it on — Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The SoCal ports have delayed the container dwell fee for the umpteenth (or in this case, umptenth) time. But have the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach improved at all? Not according to Vespucci Maritime CEO Lars Jensen who says, “The status right now is essentially no different from the situation in late November.”
No relief — While inland trucking may have its issues, the global shipping crisis that captivated the world in ’21 is still in full effect. According to Judah Levine, head of research at Freightos, “There is no strong expectation of significant improvements [for cargo shippers] until underlying demand wanes. That doesn’t look like it will be happening anytime soon.” Read FreightWaves’ Greg Miller’s bull and bear cases for ocean shipping in ’22.
Omicron conundrum — Don’t look now but the Beilun district of Ningbo recorded it’s first COVID case of ’22. The Ningbo Zhoushan port complex is the world’s third-biggest port, and with China’s zero-COVID policy, importers are on edge regarding further lockdowns. Fortunately, Seatrade Maritime News reports, “During the period of 1 January-3 January, daily container throughput at Ningbo-Zhoushan port was more than 97,000 teu, the volume was 108.5% of the same period of last year.” This will continue to be a situation to watch across all ports in Asia.
Stranded in Virginia
On ice — On Monday a blizzard that dumped 11 inches on Virginia left drivers stranded on a 50-mile stretch of I-95 well into Tuesday afternoon. All told, many drivers spent over 20 hours stuck on the interstate. To put that in perspective, my family and I drove from Chattanooga to Cape Cod over the holidays … that only took 19 hours (fortunately we avoided any major incidents.) NBC News’ Josh Lederman and his dog counted themselves among the drivers who were trapped. He tweeted, “The interstate is absolutely littered with disabled vehicles. Not just cars. Semis, everything. Nobody can move. People are running out of gas or abandoning vehicles.” Frustrated motorists took to Twitter to plead for help and air their concerns as many ran low on gas, food and patience.
Goodwill — In crisis comes strength, and some of the best stories from this incident were the simple gestures of good people. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who spent over 19 hours in gridlock, tweeted, “A CT family returning in a packed car from Florida walked by in the middle of the night handing out oranges as we were stopped for hours on I-95. Bless them!” Long-hauler Emily Slaughter who was also stuck advised those in crisis to count on a trucker. CBS’ Jim DeFede, who spent over 20 hours in that mess, took a pragmatic approach to the delay, tweeting, “I’m not sure but I think I now qualify for Virginia residency.”
Lightning strikes thrice
Charging ahead — Ford CEO Jim Farley announced Tuesday that the company plans to produce 150,000 Ford Lightnings annually. Here’s the catch: That number is a moving target and isn’t expected to be hit until mid-2023. While the truck starts at around $40,000 MSRP, consumers are seeing dealer markups of $30,000 on top of the sticker price. Those markups may even have The Rock tapping out as he plans to get one after the supply chain sorts itself out.
Tesla delivers — While Ford may have some lofty goals for the Lightning, Tesla is continuing its dominance of the space. Although some thought a recall of nearly a half-million vehicles could finally slow Musk down, Wall Street quickly rebounded. Barron’s reports, “[Tesla shares] gained 13.5% on Monday after the company reported that it delivered more than 308,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter, roughly 15% more than the roughly 267,000 Wall Street expected.”
Trucker saves dog’s day, dog saves trucker’s year
Do you know Updog? — Trucker Jonathan Bolanos of Team Bolanos Trucking made a dog’s day during his last load of the year. Last Thursday on the Jersey Turnpike the veteran driver was stopped in traffic when it came to his attention that a dog was not only loose on the roadway but had sought refuge between his tires. Bolanos and a number of other motorists attempted to coax the dog free and after an hour of calming the dog down, state troopers were able to recover him. Bolanos sees it as a good omen, telling MyCentralNewJersey, “I am very happy that I can do something so positive and end the year feeling like I did something good. I knew he was in safe hands with me — I love and respect animals. Now, I feel like this is going to be a great year.”
WTT this week
Wednesday — It’s the first WTT in ’22 and on the show we’re looking ahead to the future of biofuels, simplifying how drivers get paid, using AI to get ahead of fleet maintenance, the state of dwell times and more. With special guests Fabricio Bezerra, market development manager, Renewable Road Transportation at Neste US; Anna Enns, chief product officer at Gig Wage; Braden Pastalaniec, VP of transportation and logistics at Uptake; and Greg Braun, chief revenue officer at C3 Solutions Inc.
Friday — Getting drivers physically fit in ’22 and fleets in shape for new trucking regulations. With special guests Steve Kane, president and creator of Rolling Strong; Vipul Shah, chief technology officer at NEXT Trucking; and Julie Dillon, health and wellness manager at St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund.
Now on demand
A Very WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Christmas
Disruption conniption live from Domestic Supply Chain Summit
Key for ’22
Bend don’t break — Supply chain managers who hoped things would return to normal in ’21 got crushed last year. We asked project44’s Adam Compain about why a focus on resiliency will be key in ’22. Here’s what he had to say.
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