Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Heavier Loads and Container Shipping


heavy-loads

To keep you looped into the trucking industry, we’re sharing all things transportation, from maritime to infrastructure and other newsworthy material.

Nikola Trucks Powered by Hydrogen

On Dec. 1, Nikola introduced a truck powered by a hydrogen fuel cell which will power the Lithium-ion battery for trucks hauling up to 80,000 pounds for a maximum of 1,200 miles.

What Tesla has been to cars, so has Nikola been to trucking, but this seems to be changing a bit as Tesla is introducing their electric vehicle to the market in September, according to CEO Elon Musk. Tesla and Nikola are looking to capture a potentially growing market in the U.S. as less than 1 percent of trucks are expected to be electric by 2020. In Europe, the electric truck market is sitting at 10 percent, while China is at 12 percent. Toyota has also acknowledged their interest in introducing an electric truck into the U.S. market. With Nikola’s presence in the market, costs may begin to decrease making these vehicles more affordable for the masses. Nikola is already offering their vehicles with a lease option which includes all fuel needed for up to six years. More to come.

California Announces Diesel Tax Price Hike

The state of California just approved a 20 cent increase in diesel tax prices to take effect Nov. 1. Legislators are doing this to fund a $52 billion infrastructural improvement program. This hike brings the diesel tax up to 36 cents a gallon. Additionally, the diesel sales tax is also increasing from nine percent to 13 percent. The increase in diesel taxes is expected to bring $10.8 billion in revenue into the state. Another $16.3 billion is expected to be earned through an annual fee to be implemented on all vehicles. The fee will range from $25-$175 depending on the value of the vehicle.

Congress Increases Weight Limits

The U.S. Congress is looking into increasing federal weight limits beyond the 80,000-pound mark to 91,000 pounds for vehicles with six axles. The increase is thought to reduce traffic congestion by allowing more freight to be carried at one time, lessening the need for multiple trips in the same lane. The Truckload Carriers Association believes this is a bad idea as it only benefits larger companies. According to the TCA, the cost to retrofit a trailer capable of reaching the additional 11,000 pounds could be as much as $4,800—not to mention additional fuel costs. If Congress did increase the weight limit, they would be matching what states like Texas did last year in hopes of reducing the number of loads running across their state. There are no studies or statistics to back up whether the increase in weight allowances would actually make the roads safer or reduce traffic.

Maritime Industry Makes Waves over Shipping Alliances

On top of another container line going out of business (Rickmers out of Singapore), the U.S. Congress is being pressured to re-write the Shipping Act of 1984. The way it is currently written, container shippers have the ability to negotiate contracts jointly as an alliance. As the maritime issues continue to come to light, container shipping alliances are growing stronger with little ability to reign in their power. Last month, Congress delivered subpoenas to several big name container companies while in meetings in San Francisco. The hearings are scheduled for the first part of May and will be looking at how alliances are currently negotiating their rates and whether collusion is becoming an issue. Marine Terminal groups and unions are part of the growing group concerned with the container shipping alliances and are placing pressure on Congress to act. If collusion is taking place and these alliances are able to drive rates, it could create further issues with freight prices across the U.S.

There was plenty of other information roll through this week. If you have any questions or feedback, send us an email at mailbag@truckstop.com.