Some Carriers Want to Go Green but Face Barriers, Convoy Survey Finds

Electric Truck
An electric truck being charged. (Daimler Trucks North America)

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One-third of small and midsize trucking companies want to reduce emissions but face barriers, a Convoy survey released Aug. 31 showed.

The Sustainability in Trucking Snapshot Report found 35% of dispatchers feel pressure to reduce carbon emissions in their business while 38% of owner-operators feel the same. But when it came to solutions such as whether they should consider buying an electric truck, most faced barriers to entry, for instance, cost.

“There was almost universal interest in this topic of sustainability,” Jennifer Wong, head of sustainability at Convoy, told Transport Topics. “I think oftentimes most people aren’t going directly to drivers, to carriers to ask them about their perspectives on sustainability and the actions that they’re taking today.”

The survey includes more than 593 small and midsize trucking companies nationwide and was conducted throughout August. The survey participants include dispatchers for fleets and owner-operators who spoke on behalf of their operations.



“We also want to work closely with carriers to understand how we can best help them, because they’re a huge part of this story,” Wong said. “It really has to start with the carriers wanting to be more sustainable in their operations for any change to actually happen. So, I think it’s great that carriers of all types were responding to the survey and giving their perspectives here.

“It’s not just the younger generation or new drivers that care about this. It was all backgrounds.”

As to reasons carriers wanted to reduce carbon emissions, most cited increased awareness of the environmental impact at 24%. That was followed by government regulation at 19%. The top reasons also vary depending on role type.

“I think what we saw in the survey was that over a third of respondents felt pressure to reduce carbon emissions today,” Wong said. “The top reason to want to reduce emissions was just more awareness of the environmental impact of carbon emissions. So they’re actually maybe more altruistic about that than some of the customers that we work with who see it as more of a business opportunity.”

For respondents with more than 20 years of experience, only 12% thought government regulation is worth the cost, while 45% disagreed with the idea. In contrast, 31% of individuals with less than one year of experience thought the cost is worth it, while only 27% disagreed.

“On the government regulation side, there’s still so much unknown there,” Wong said. “I think we’re starting to see that state by state. Some states have policies or regulations specific to the reduction of carbon emissions. I would say the most well-known one is California.”

The survey found the biggest barrier to entry for considering an electric truck was expense at 55.9%. That was followed by concerns over distance limits (40.5%), a lack of infrastructure (35.8%), charging time (33.9%) and maintenance (24.9%). That is despite 75% of respondents saying they plan to buy a new truck within the next three years.

“We see when they’re planning on purchasing trucks and then what their biggest barriers or challenges are to purchase those types of greener trucks,” Wong said. “So, when we see responses such as it’s a little bit too expensive, or we don’t see the charging infrastructure yet, that’s when we can start going to potential partners to help solve problems for carriers.”


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Wong added that way carriers can more easily adopt these technologies when they hit more mainstream markets. But there are actions carriers can take in the short term to help reduce their emissions. Wong points to reducing empty miles as a top strategy.

“We know that every business today has a problem with empty miles,” Wong said. “So, it’s both looking at kind of short term, how do we help carriers today in their sustainability efforts, as well as what could we learn from carriers today so that we can build the right products or programs or partnerships to be able to help them be more sustainable and really succeed a little bit longer term.”

Convoy has its own solutions to help reduce empty miles. Automated Reloads was produced by the company to enable carriers of all sizes to book multiple reloads at a time. This is intended to help them earn more, minimize empty miles and eliminate time waiting between work. Wong said the service reduces empty miles by about 45%.

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