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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Monday, January 16, 2023

Trucking

Spot market returning to ‘seasonal’ and ‘normal’ after 2021 surge, 2022 slump

Fleet Owner Scott Achelpohl January 13, 2023

Rather than “surging” or “panicked” or “not sustainable,” trucking industry experts and load board operators these days describe the spot market for freight as “seasonal” and “returning to normal” and “recovering” in the new year after it surged in 2021 but slumped for much of last year.
“The spot market is normalizing—it has been really for the last five months,” said Brent Hutto, who is chief relationship officer for Truckstop, a freight rate data aggregator but also a load marketplace.
Capacity is down, but spot-market rates per mile are up, DAT reports. Dry van equipment posts fell 30% the week of Dec. 25 to Dec. 31, but van linehaul rates were up 12 cents to $2 a mile, the highest weekly linehaul rate since the last week in May, DAT said in a Jan. 4 email. Reefer posts also were down 25.8%, but linehaul rates in that sector rose 33 cents to $2.50 a mile, the highest since mid-April. Flatbed posts were down 37.5%, but rates were up 5 cents to $2.19 per mile, according to DAT.

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Industry

Relationship between imports and trucking is dynamic but telling

Freight Waves Zach Strickland January 14, 2023

From January 2019 through the first two weeks of January 2023 companies have booked container imports nearly in sync with asking for domestic truckload capacity over the past four years. As inventories correct, that is changing. But their direction remains similar entering ’23.
While the direct correlation between bookings and trucking tenders has loosened, the general direction remains nearly identical entering ’23. Since early July, the OTVI and IOTI have fallen roughly 20% and 30%, respectively. Neither index has displayed any strong erratic behavior as they fall at a more consistent rate.
The takeaway is that the goods economy is still in a transitory state as demand continues to erode. Morgan Stanley transportation analyst Ravi Shanker stated that he sees a potential bottoming coming in the first half of the year as inventories rightsize but hedges that belief with concerns about macroeconomic health.

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December Class 8 Sales Reach All-Time High

Transport Topics Connor D. Wolf January 13, 2023

U.S. Class 8 retail sales in December reached an all-time monthly high, Wards Intelligence reported.
Sales rose 18% to 29,172 compared with 24,716 a year earlier, according to Wards.
The numbers surpassed the previous peak for the year, 23,581 in August.
They also were the highest since data started being collected in 1998. Full-year sales rose 14.6% to 254,206 compared with 221,889 in 2021.

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Borderlands: Port Laredo No. 2 gateway for international trade in November

Freight Waves Noi Mahoney January 15, 2023

Port Laredo was the No. 2 port of entry among the nation’s 450 international gateways for trade in November, behind Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Trade at Port Laredo for November increased almost 14% year over year (y/y) to $24.6 billion from the same month a year ago and was down 8% y/y compared to October, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by WorldCity.

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U.S. rail and intermodal volumes, for week ending January 7, are mixed, reports AAR

Logistics Management January 13, 2023

Rail carloads—at 212,962—saw a 1.4% annual increase, topping the weeks ending December 31 and December 24, at 179,992 and 193,195, respectively.
Intermodal containers and trailers—at 203,257—fell 11.8% annually, topping the week ending December 31, at 185,561, and trailing the week ending December 24, at 207,094.

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Technology/Innovation

3 Trucking Take-Aways from CES 2023

Heavy Duty Trucking Jack Roberts January 13, 2023

Trade shows are often where all-new ideas and concepts are first presented to an industry. CES 2023 delivered on that front with lots of talk about a new design concept called “software-defined vehicles.”
I’ll have more to say about this later. But, in essence, software defined vehicles manage operations entirely by computer software programs. In other words, everything on the vehicle – from the brakes to the steering down to locking or unlocking its doors – is controlled by software.
Software-defined vehicles were a major theme at ZF’s booth. Board Director Martin Fischer said during a ZF press conference at the show that in essence, this is bringing iPhone design and functionality to vehicles and will deliver more efficient vehicle operations while enabling new functions, features and performance possibilities.

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Government/Safety/Sustainability

IIJA Implementation Is Ongoing Process, DOT Official Says

Transport Topics Eugene Mulero January 13, 2023

Specific to safety, a goal from a recent policy road map unveiled by DOT proposes: “We must strive for zero transportation system fatalities. Zero is the only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries on our transportation system. Achieving the vision of zero fatalities will take effort from across society to change how we design and operate our transportation system.”
“People no longer accept a high risk of fatality or serious injury as a cost of mobility. Social norms have changed. Impaired, risky and distracted driving is no longer accepted, and everyone wears a seat belt,” according to the department’s research, development and technology strategic plan, released Jan. 11.
Link: U.S. Department of Transportation Five-Year Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan

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EPA pushes toward finalization of heavy-duty truck standards

Land Line Mark Schremmer January 13, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with its plan to reduce air-pollution from heavy-duty trucks.
EPA’s 1,120-page final rule is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on Jan. 24.
Meanwhile, trucking groups say that EPA is putting the cart before the horse and that the rule could force small-business truckers out of the industry.
“If small-business truckers can’t afford the new, compliant trucks, they’re going to stay with older, less-efficient trucks, pass along upgrade costs to consumers, or leave the industry entirely,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said on Dec. 20 when EPA first announced that a rule was forthcoming. “Once again, EPA has largely ignored the warnings and concerns raised by truckers in this latest rule.”

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Inspection blitzes for 2023 set by CVSA

Land Line January 13, 2023

Dates for three annual events emphasizing commercial motor vehicle inspections have been scheduled by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.
International Roadcheck
The next International Roadcheck is scheduled for May 16-18.
Brake Safety Week
CVSA’s Operation Airbrake Program plans two annual brake safety campaigns in 2023: Brake Safety Week and an unannounced inspection blitz.
The next Brake Safety Week is scheduled for Aug. 20-26.
Operation Safe Driver Week
The next Operation Safe Driver Week is scheduled for July 9-15.

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Are car touchscreens distracting drivers?

NBC Nightly News January 14, 2023

With touchscreens now in 99% of new cars, researchers are studying whether they are distracting drivers and putting people at risk. NBC’s Dasha Burns went inside a massive simulator at the University of Iowa to put that question to the test. Is she able to work with the touch screens and keep her eyes on the road?
Link: University of Iowa Driving Safety Research Institute

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Economy

China’s Export Decline Deepens, Threatening Growth

The Wall Street Journal Stella Yifan Xie January 13, 2023

Subscription-Based

The decline for Chinese exports got steeper in the final month of 2022, falling 9.9% from a year earlier, compared with a 8.7% drop in November, according to data from China’s customs bureau. While the decline wasn’t as steep as the 10.5% drop forecast by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal, it marked the biggest dip since February 2020, when a nationwide lockdown brought economic activity to a halt.
Related: Supply Chain Dive China’s spike in COVID-19 cases strains factories

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Biden Administration’s Big Manufacturing Push Could Transform Global Trade

The Wall Street Journal Yuka Hayashi January 12, 2023

Subscription-Based

In just over a year, the U.S. has passed three huge budget measures aimed at transforming its domestic economy—by rebuilding infrastructure, accelerating a clean-energy transition, and boosting manufacturing in semiconductors and the automotive industry.
Each of these initiatives is focused on strengthening the U.S. economy and on boosting U.S. competitiveness in the world. But there is another crucial consideration as well: How these three policies are implemented in the months ahead could reshape global trade relations for years to come.

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