Transportation

COMMENTARY: Addressing the national truck driver shortage

ST. LOUIS - 

Those in the vehicle logistics industry have known for a while that a shortage of long-haul truck drivers in the United States over the last several years has impacted costs and delivery times. According to a report from the , the U.S. had a shortage of 51,000 truck drivers at the end of 2017. That number is expected to balloon to 63,000 by the end of this year, and 174,000 by 2026 if current trends hold.

Beyond vehicle transport, that shortage is now impacting costs in other areas as well, including consumer goods. Companies like General Mills, Tyson Foods, Hormel and John Deere have all cited higher shipping costs for price hikes in their products.

Rising transportation costs will certainly impact our nation’s economy as well. By revenue, trucks move 82 percent of the freight in the United States. Logistics and transportation account for about 10 percent of every dollar in the national economy, so an increase in transportation costs will likely increase inflation.

The causes

So, what exactly is causing this shortage of truck drivers?

Experts say truckers are aging out of the industry and not enough younger drivers are joining. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55.

Truck drivers earn an average of $23.99 per hour. Despite that, the industry is losing young workers to jobs with more steady hours and a better work-life balance, like construction or energy. The long work hours (up to 70 hours a week for many) and weeks away from home are definitely seen as detractors, especially in a healthy economy with plentiful job opportunities.

Additionally, some drivers are weary of new federal safety regulations that monitor how long they are on the road, and that mandate electronic logging devices (ELDs) on all trucks with an engine model year of 2000 or later.

As retired truck driver Robert Sanders told Business Insider magazine, “No one wants to be gone for weeks at a time while being monitored 14 hours a day for a ridiculously low wage while performing a stressful and dangerous job. Might as well do a job where you are appreciated and paid better after your eight-hour shift.”

While driverless cars and trucks are still years away from being widely accepted, some foresee that the long-term prospects for the truck driver profession are not good.

Looking for solutions

While there is no surefire cure-all for the truck driver shortage, several developments can help attract and retain more drivers.

I believe the solution will require an industrywide push. Our nation’s economy is dependent on the ability to move products. The government should have some skin in the game and actively work to address the issue.

Following are just a few of the proposed solutions:

  • Offering higher wages, signing bonuses and frequent raises
  • Offering shorter hours
  • Congress is considering lowering the interstate truck-driving age from 21 to 18
  • Promoting to younger drivers the advanced technology used in the industry
  • Promoting professionalism, and removing the negative stigma of being a trucker
  • Identifying and actively marketing to targeted populations like military veterans and women
  • Incentivizing companies that promote drivers’ work-life balance
  • Creating value-added tools that enhance the work-life balance of drivers

The truck driver shortage could deliver a double whammy to auto dealers: both in higher transport costs and higher inflation in the general economy. Executives in the auto industry would be wise to monitor the shortage, and work collaboratively with lawmakers, regulators, vocational schools and transport companies to lessen the economic impact and develop viable industrywide solutions.

Susan Moritz is vice president of business development with ACERTUS ().



MetroGistics rebrands to ACERTUS

ST. LOUIS  - 

Automotive logistics services provider MetroGistics is rebranding.

The company, which has acquired McNutt, AmeriFleet and Metro Title Services over the past four years, is now known as ACERTUS.

In a news release, MetroGistics said its rebranding to ACERTUS “reflects the companies’ coming together to form a one-stop shop offering world-class vehicle lifecycle solutions to all its combined customers including OEM’s, dealers and fleet management companies.”

The brand transition will occur over the next few months; until then, each company will keep its existing processes and information.

ACERTUS headquarters will be in St. Louis, with additional facilities in Alpharetta, Ga., and Lenexa, Kan.

“As ACERTUS, we will now be able to offer more services to help our customers while also maintaining the same high level of extraordinary commitment in all we do,” company co-founder and chief executive William Billiter said in a news release. “Without having to call multiple vendors, you will be able to arrange seamless end-to-end services with a single phone call or click of a mouse.”

MetroGistics launched as a vehicle transport company eight years ago and has since made a series of acquisitions in that space and beyond. That includes the 2014 purchase of logistics provider McNutt Automotive Logistics, the 2016 purchase of fleet logistics/services company AmeriFleet and last year’s acquisition of Metro Title Services, a provider of vehicle title and registration services.

“Our individual operations have already realized efficiencies and adopted best practices that will maintain our reputation as a technological leader focused on providing clients with market-leading solutions,” MetroGistics co-founder and chief strategy officer Scott Naz said in a news release.

“Going forward, we remain focused on innovation and technology to further integrate and optimize our services,” Naz said.

The new entity will offer and expand upon the following services: transportation services, fleet logistics, technology solutions, title and registration, compliance and care services, vehicle storage and final-mile delivery solutions.

AuSM caught up with Naz and MetroGistics vice president of business development Susan Moritz at Used Car Week in November for an episode of the AuSM Podcast, which can be found below.

Podcast: United Road COO Mark Anderson

LA QUINTA, Calif. - 

At Used Car Week in November, Joe sat down with United Road president and chief operating officer Mark Anderson to talk about finding drivers for vehicle logistics/transportation providers, how the online sales environment impacts the transportation/logistics space, the impact of hurricanes to the segment and more.

Check out their conversation from La Quinta, Calif., below, and find all Used Car Week episodes of the show at .

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Manheim Ready Logistics, Central Dispatch tout significant 2017 growth

GILBERT, Ariz. - 

Manheim announced Thursday that its Ready Logistics and Central Dispatch solutions for dealers and commercial clients who want to transport vehicles saw significant growth last year.

Ready Logistics moved over two million vehicles last year, a 14 percent year-over-year increase; and Central Dispatch supported 6.7 million vehicle moves, an increase of 34 percent year-over-year, according to Manheim.

The company said Ready Logistics’ recent growth is a result of its ability to satisfy clients with seamless transportation solutions and value-added integrations.

Last year, Ready Logistics launched several new solutions and integrations, including Ready. Set. Pause., HUB, Transportation Financing and Local Delivery.

“Clients want reliable transportation services that deliver efficiencies and peace of mind — and that’s what Ready does,” Manheim senior vice president of marketplace and logistics Patrick Brennan said in a news release. “In 2017, we saw an increase in new clients, retention rates were higher and — most telling — the number of vehicles moved per client increased by 30 percent.”

Ready Logistics connects automotive dealers, auctions, commercial clients and car owners to a nationwide network of more than 6,500 carriers, both in-lane or digitally, according to the company.

Meanwhile, last year, Central Dispatch saw a 12-percent increase in subscriptions, ending the year with over 21,600 members.

Additionally, Central Dispatch dealer subscribers increased 21 percent year-over-year, and shippers increased the number of vehicle moves they requested by 34 percent, according to Manheim.

“At Manheim, our Logistics team is all about delivering the best client experience and ensuring that high-performing, competitively priced carriers are moving more inventory,” added Brennan. “The result is that clients get their vehicles faster and more efficiently, enabling them to more quickly sell their inventory and generate revenue.”

MetroGistics raises over 24K for local animal welfare organizations

ST. LOUIS - 

Transportation company Metrogistics raised over $24,000 this year at its halloween event for local animal welfare organizations—the most the annual charity event has raised yet.

Metrogistics’ Monster Mash Halloween Party raised $24,148 to be distributed evenly between Helping Strays – The Humane Society of Monroe County, Ill., and the Humane Society of St. Clair County SNAP (spay, neuter, adopt, protect) in China, Mich.

Helping Strays is a charitable organization promoting responsible pet ownership, and The Humane Society of St. Clair County SNAP is a nonprofit organization that developed out of a community-wide need to help keep an unwanted animal population under control.   

The event — which had around 150 attendees — was held on Oct. 14 at the St. Louis Zoo’s Living World building.

Attendees, many of which were in costume, were privy to music, prizes, a fortune teller and a palm reader.

Metrogistics shared that local sponsorships from Crowe Horwath, McCarthy Leonard & Klaemerer, A&M and Hot in the Kitchen allowed for all ticket sales revenue to go to the two animal welfare groups.  

“This year’s total was the most money ever raised at our annual Monster Mash party, which will allow us to make our largest donations yet to our designated charities,” said managing partner William Billiter. “Thank you to our attendees, sponsors and staff. We truly appreciate your generosity.” 

 

GM Financial to donate car to Boston Ronald McDonald House

FORT WORTH, Texas - 

GM Financial announced Monday that it has chosen the Ronald McDonald House at Boston to receive a vehicle as apart of its Cool Cars for Remarkable Kids program.

The Ronald McDonald House at Boston Harbor is the 18th Ronald McDonald House to receive a vehicle since the program launched earlier this year.

This month, GM Financial also presented Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio with two vehicles.

“Among the myriad of challenges confronting Ronald McDonald House visitors is access to reliable and cost-effective transport to and from hospitals and treatment centers,” GM Financial president and chief executive officer Dan Berce said in a news release.

“Our Cool Cars for Remarkable Kids program seeks to meet this need by offering a mobility solution for Ronald McDonald House families. We are pleased to extend the program in Boston and contribute to the critically important work this organization is doing for the children and families it serves.”

The Boston Harbor house joins other participating locations in Texas, North Carolina, Arizona and Michigan. These are regions where GM Financial maintains a significant commercial or employment presence, according to the company.

“The housing need for families visiting Boston for its world-class hospitals is critical,” said Karen McEachern, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern New England. “The Cool Cars for Remarkable Kids program provides families seamless transportation between their apartment here at the Ronald McDonald House at Boston Harbor to their treatment hospitals — another way we can now deliver on our mission to keep families close.”

This year, GM Financial said it plans to gift a total of 30 vehicles nationwide.

TradeRev organizes free transportation for Houston-area dealers

CARMEL, Ind. - 

TradeRev found a way to help dealerships that are still trying to get their businesses back in order after Hurricane Harvey.

On Tuesday, TradeRev launched a special offer to help Houston-area dealers replenish inventory lost during the Category 4 storm. For a limited time, Houston-area dealers will receive free transportation through CarsArrive Network on any vehicle purchased on TradeRev from Texas, Oklahoma and Florida.

The company hopes this will alleviate some of the financial pressure dealers are experiencing while helping them quickly source high-quality units to meet surging consumer demand. TradeRev and CarsArrive Network are both business units of KAR Auction Services.

“KAR’s auctions and affiliated business units have played an active role in the hurricane relief efforts, and we’ve witnessed the hardships our customers are facing first-hand,” said Becca Polak, TradeRev president and chief legal officer and secretary for KAR Auction Services.

“Using TradeRev will help Houston dealers source inventory more quickly and conveniently from a broader seller-base than the local auctions. And the CarsArrive promotion is one way we could show our support and help dealers rebuild their businesses,” Polak continued.

This free shipping offer ends Nov. 30. The company explained it is limited to buying dealers located in Texas ZIP codes impacted by Hurricane Harvey. For more information on the zip codes eligible and offer restrictions, visit the news section on TradeRev.com.

“CarsArrive is proud to partner with TradeRev to help our shared customers in Houston recover and rebuild,” said Michael Briggs, president of CarsArrive Network and RDN. “We have strong, long-standing relationships in Houston, and we want to see this great automotive market back on its feet as quickly as possible.”

Groupe PSA launches app for car-sharing options in Seattle

SEATTLE - 

Groupe PSA, owner of car brands Peugeot, Citroen and Opel, announced Wednesday that it has launched Free2Move, an app on which users can compare the location, characteristics and operating costs of available transportation options, in Seattle.

This is the company’s first U.S. market launch. The Free2Move app is currently available in France, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria and Sweden.

“We’re pleased to announce today that we will begin our North American operations in Seattle,” Groupe PSA senior vice president of mobility Brigitte Courtehoux said in a news release. “As we begin to add more providers and roll out to new cities, Free2Move will enrich the lives of Americans who embrace innovative, non-traditional forms of transportation.”

With Free2Move, consumers can both schedule and instantly access various transportation options while on the go.

The smartphone-based mobility aggregation platform features offerings from companies like Car2Go, Zipcar and TravelCar.

“The decision to launch a service that helps people move around in the most efficient way underscores our commitment to the future of Groupe PSA,” said Larry Dominique, Groupe PSA North America president and chief executive officer.

“As mobility services evolve and innovate based on the way people think about and consume mobility, bringing Free2Move stateside provides us with a unique way to address consumer demands, as well as a flexible platform to roll out future products,” he explained.

In Seattle, Groupe PSA said the launch of Free2Move helps support the city’s recent efforts to develop efficient mobility in the area.

Bike-sharing services like Ofo Bike, Lime Bike and Spin Bike will be added to Free2Move over the next 60-days, according to the company.

COMMENTARY: ELD mandate will impact used-vehicle transport

ST. LOUIS  - 

The auto industry enjoyed record sales in 2016, but a mid-year report from Urban Science shows that per-store sales are likely to slow in 2017. With dealers watching their profit margins, they may not be aware of a national development that could impact vehicle-transport costs.

In 2015 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a mandate for all commercial interstate vehicles to have an electronic logging device by December 18, 2017.

The intent of ELDs is to accurately gauge compliance with laws regulating hours of operation, mostly affecting long-range truckers. Those laws are part of an effort to reduce the number of accidents involving commercial vehicles, especially those due to driver fatigue.

According to several reports, most truck operators have yet to install an ELD, and efforts in the U.S. Congress to delay the implementation date have failed to gain any traction.

The new mandate has its supporters and detractors, with some pointing to the estimated $1.6 billion per year savings for the industry by limiting paperwork costs and enhancing fuel efficiency. Others say the cost of purchasing and installing ELDs will negate those projected savings.

New Requirements

So, if the Dec. 18 deadline stands, truckers will have to factor in these considerations:

  • All trucks with an engine model year of 2000 or later (regardless of the truck model year) will need to comply and install an ELD. There are an estimated 3.5 million trucks that fit that description.
  • One ELD provider estimates that the devices will cost carriers between $199 and $2,200 per truck, a monthly service fee of $20 to $60 per truck.
  • Truckers who currently use an automated on-board recording device get a two-year extension before they have to switch to ELDs.

Implications for used-car dealers

Auto dealers will likely be impacted by the new mandate in several ways:

  • The cost of transport will likely increase. One industry analyst is advising truck drivers to raise their rates by 1 percent per mile.
  • There may be some sticker shock right around Dec. 18. Truckers with ELDs know they have an advantage over noncompliant trucks and may use that as a bargaining chip to ask for higher rates during the first few months.
  • There is a slight chance of delayed delivery times for two reasons: 1) truckers with ELDs stopping when they hit their limit of driving hours; and 2) noncompliant trucks being detained and cited for not adhering to the new rules.
  • Industry watchers say the new costs and regulations will cause some operators (potentially up to 26 percent) to leave trucking altogether, adding to the current driver shortage. This would mean fewer long-haul drivers, leading to even higher costs and longer delivery times.

A good auto-transport company will work with you to maximize loads and provide the most cost-efficient service possible. It may mean sharing loads or combining purchases with other dealers in your area. You can always a transport company for a free shipping quote, but in the meantime you should start factoring in increased transport costs in your 2017 budget.

Melissa Trautman is vice president of marketing strategy and integration for MetroGistics (). 

2 components of Ready Logistics’ new efficiency solution

GILBERT, Ariz. - 

Ready Logistics highlighted that the company is trying to bring a new level of automation and transparency to the manual process-oriented vehicle transportation sector with the launch of the HUB, a centralized communication platform that is geared to increase efficiency for clients.

By automating procedures that typically delay vehicle movement, Ready Logistics explained that the HUB can improve the carrier pickup process, speeds delivery and provides real-time insights.

“The vehicle logistics business hasn’t changed much in decades, using a manual process to get cars from point A to point B,” said Patrick Brennan, senior vice president of logistics at Cox Automotive.

“At Ready Logistics, we’re on a mission to make it faster and easier for clients to move vehicles from anywhere to everywhere — and the HUB is an example of how we’re doing it,” Brennan continued in a news release.

The Ready Logistics HUB’s two main tools are designed to increase efficiency across the transportation process:

—The Vehicle Assessment HUB can allow location agents to provide 24/7 status updates, enabling carriers to experience a seamless pickup process and improve days to deliver. It also can send instant notifications that eliminate the need for phone calls to determine vehicle location.

Additionally, this tool can offer improved reporting and greater visibility into which locations are performing to ensure timely and accurate pickups.

—The My Vehicles HUB can enable clients to access real-time status and the order history of their units in the Ready Logistics transportation system, eliminating the need to a representative.

The tool’s dashboard can allow clients to search VINs, export vehicle lists, view stats and average days to deliver, as well as track the performance of origination locations.

“The more we automate the transportation process and deliver valuable insights, the quicker our clients can get vehicles onto the frontlines of their dealerships or into an auction to be sold,” Brennan said.

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