Ideas & Insights

The rise of sustainable trucking 

The adoption of new technologies – like predictive analytics – can help the industry tackle the great, green challenge.

For years, the idea of sustainable trucking has been just that – an idea, rather than a reality. In the competitive world of global commerce, speed and operational efficiency have been the name of the game. But that drive towards results has come with an environmental cost. In the U.S., transportation is already the largest human-generated producer of greenhouse gas emissions. In Canada, freight GHG emissions have been projected to exceed emissions from passenger vehicles by 2030. And without significant changes, the transport sector could be responsible for nearly half of all global GHG emissions by 2035.  

In an era in which governments, regulators and consumers are focused on reducing the carbon footprint across economies, the trucking industry finds itself at a pivotal juncture. But there is a way forward. The integration of fleet management systems is transforming the logistics landscape, steering the trucking industry towards a future where environmental consciousness and operational efficiency converge seamlessly. Sustainable trucking, enhanced by vehicle tracking systems and predictive analytics, is no longer simply an idea. It is a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to thrive in a world where eco-conscious consumers and stringent regulations define the playing field. 

Pioneering the Green Revolution 

Sustainable trucking has emerged as a critical response to the challenge of the transport industry’s carbon footprint. It aims not only to reduce GHG emissions, but also to integrate social and governance principles in line with the environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework. This approach goes beyond mere environmental considerations to include predictive maintenance, operations automation, and elevating social and economic standards within the industry. 

Today, industry leaders are pioneering the transformation towards sustainability. One indication of the transition is the growing adoption of clean-diesel technology, which is designed to meet strict emissions regulations and includes advanced features like particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction systems for minimum tailpipe emissions. As of 2023, more than half of Class 8 commercial trucks in the U.S. are powered by the latest generation of this near-zero-emission technology. And major fleets have committed to transitioning a significant portion of their new heavy-duty truck purchases to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), including electric models, by 2030. 

The industry is also witnessing a growing interest in alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), which include electric, hydrogen-electric and renewable natural gas vehicles. We are seeing an accelerated adoption and investment in AFVs, as highlighted in the 2023 State of Sustainable Fleets report. This trend reflects the elevated demand for clean energy options and the need for electrical grid improvements to support vehicle charging. 

The Future of Sustainable Trucking 

How will the trucking industry adapt as environmental concerns rise? One notable shift is toward open and integrated telematics platforms, which empower fleet managers to comprehensively monitor their vehicles through a unified system. The adoption of Digital Twin Technology in fleet management allows for data-driven decision-making and performance analysis, which paves the way for more streamlined and efficient fleet management, encompassing everything from maintenance practices to fuel efficiency. 

 

Another emerging trend centers around the adoption of compact, intelligent electric motors on trailer axles. These motors offer supplementary horsepower and torque as needed, ultimately enhancing fuel efficiency. Rigorous testing has demonstrated that these powered trailers can make a significant difference in tractor-trailer fuel economy.

 

Meanwhile, the rise of active aerodynamics in vehicle design, which aims to reduce fuel consumption by minimizing drag, is gaining momentum. Innovative solutions that mitigate downstream turbulence and reduce drag are contributing to the ongoing development of more fuel-efficient, lower-emission trucks. 

Charting a Course for Sustainable Trucking 

The environmental challenge to the trucking industry is real, but the journey towards sustainable trucking reflects a steadfast commitment to ecological stewardship and innovation. As the trucking industry continues on this path, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Sustainability in trucking is a multifaceted challenge that requires multifaceted strategies, integrating technological, regulatory, operational and cultural elements. Increasingly, the industry is recognizing the importance of sustainable practices, not just as a response to environmental risk, but also to help ensure long-term economic sustainability and social responsibility.  

 

In the dynamic realm of sustainable trucking, every step forward is a move towards a greener, more responsible future.

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