2018 was a great year for trucking, but will 2019 be just as successful? Industry experts predict that 2019 will be almost as good as 2018. The Federal Reserve predicts the U.S. economy will gradually slow to a 2.3% growth rate in 2019, slightly down from 3% last year, setting the stage for another successful year in trucking. With industry experts having a positive outlook for 2019, here are some of the top trends we should expect to see.
The driver shortage we saw in 2018 will continue to be one of the biggest struggles for trucking companies. Currently, the industry is still short approximately 50,000 drivers and companies are competing in a tight hiring market. The National Transportation Institute expects driver wages to raise in 2019 in fleet’s efforts to shrink the driver shortage. Driver wages are already more favorable from that of just a year ago. For example, in May 2018, C.R. England announced its largest driver pay increase in our 98-year company history.
Electric and Autonomous Trucks
One of the most talked about topics in the trucking industry in 2018 was electric and autonomous trucks. Electric semi-trucks from various manufacturers have been on the rise and are being tested for short haul trips by many companies. In 2019, we should expect to see more adoption, testing, and acceptance of this new technology. One of the most anticipated milestones of 2019 is for Tesla to begin production of their electric Class 8 Semi, but Tesla’s history of missing deadlines has many industry experts asking if the lavish semi will actually make it into production this year.
Research and development of autonomous trucks will continue to make its way into 2019, slowly progressing from concept to reality. While the actual deployment of self-driving trucks could take a decade or two, it remains as one of the most talked about topics in the industry.
In efforts to make supply chain systems more efficient, Artificial Intelligence is expected to make big developments and become more mainstream in the trucking industry this year. Many companies are already integrating AI into their fleets by using it for predictive equipment maintenance, pallet loading onto trailers, freight matching, and more. Really, the possibilities of AI in trucking are endless.
Another technology innovation that is projected to make great strides in 2019 is blockchain. Blockchain is a new technology that has huge potential in the trucking industry. Blockchain allows for data to be stored on various servers in multiple locations, is more secure (so far, no blockchain has been hacked), and information cannot be lost.
With retailers left uncertain of possible tariffs in 2019, many retail businesses have been “front-loading” their imported inventories before tariffs are implemented. This stockpiling of goods has changed freight demand during the last few months of 2018 and could continue to alter the traditional seasonality trends in 2019.
The trends on the horizon for 2019 are promising. Industry experts predict that 2019 will be similar to 2018, with a steady economy, industry growth, and technological advancements.