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                            Trucking News: M.S. Ride, Peak Shipping Season, and Electric Trucks

                            Transflo supports Shawn Kitchen’s ride for MS

                            Transflo is proud to sponsor Shawn Kitchen as he attempts a 10,000-mile circumnavigation of the United States by motorcycle to raise funds and awareness for people with multiple sclerosis.

                            Kitchen is participating in the MS5000, an annual fundraising campaign where riders individually compete for and earn points by driving long distances on their bikes over a 50-day period from Sept. 1-Oct. 20. This year’s ride benefits MS Views and News, a nonprofit organization that provides direct service and support for those who have been diagnosed with MS, with a special emphasis on those in rural parts of the country.

                            Kitchen, a former truck driver, won the competition last year, earning the most points and raising the most money. Transflo is Kitchen’s co-title sponsor with Geotab; the two companies will fund expenses like fuel and lodging for Kitchen’s trip.

                            The event organizer, “Long Haul” Paul Pelland, was diagnosed with MS in 2012. “My journey involves traveling by motorcycle for as long as I possibly can,” he said.

                            You can make a donation and read more about Pelland and the MS5000 here. And we’ve equipped Shawn with Transflo and Geotab technology so you can track Kitchen’s progress online.

                            Peak shipping season hits the shores

                            Welcome to peak shipping season, which looks more like a steep, unending ridgeline than a summit where supply chain managers can plant a flag. The latest news from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the country’s No. 1 destination for imports from Southeast Asia:

                            • Congestion is worse than ever, with 56 container ships at anchor and 32 at berths on Sept. 14, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. The previous record was 40, set in February.
                            • The Port of Los Angeles said approximately 170,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) are due to arrive this week, 53% more than the same week last year.
                            • Wait-time at anchor is averaging 8.5 days.
                            • Intermodal congestion has pushed more freight to the truckload sector and the spot market. Last week, outbound dry van rates from Los Angeles averaged $3.18 a mile (excluding fuel surcharges), according to load board operator DAT Freight & Analytics. L.A. to Phoenix—a key lane for e-commerce freight—averaged $4.26 a mile excluding fuel. That’s 42 cents a mile higher year over year.

                            Major retailers have pulled their shipping schedules forward this year to make sure they have sufficient inventory for the holidays, and some consumers are already buying gifts. More than one in four holiday shoppers plan to start purchasing for the holidays by the end of September, while more than half plan to start before Halloween, according to a CreditCards.com survey.

                            “I half-jokingly tell people, ‘Order your Christmas presents now because otherwise on Christmas day, there may just be a picture of something that’s not coming until February or March,’” said Scott Price, president of international operations at UPS.

                            Feeling juiced about electric trucks

                            The combination of better battery technology and potentially more government money for green transportation projects has recharged interest in electric commercial vehicles.

                            The most obvious applications are for small trucks and vans that stay close to home, writes Jack Roberts of Truckinginfo.com from the Technology & Maintenance Council fall meeting this week.

                            • Mike Roeth, executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, said the electric-vehicle business case is developing quickly for small vans, step vans and yard tractors with smaller battery packs and daily range requirements from five to 50 miles.
                            • Fleets, drivers and customers need to factor in the ability to “opportunity charge” an electric vehicle at strategically located charging stations—like outside break rooms and driver lounges. “Today, there is no charging station infrastructure for commercial vehicles anywhere in the country. It’s going be entirely up to you in the beginning,” Alexander Voets, sales and marketing manager, Freightliner eMobility, told attendees. Most fleet operations will require 480-volt, three-phase, commercial power with circuit breaker capacity close to where trucks will be charged.
                            • Routing is an important consideration. Payloads, steep grades and extreme temperatures affect battery performance.
                            • Electric vehicles are data factories, production an unending stream of information about the performance of various systems and components. Partnering with a trusted telematics provider is essential to ROI.

                            Roeth and Voets encouraged fleets to start planning now for electric vehicles and what’s required to support them. Given the lack of a national charging infrastructure, the steep price of electric trucks and the need to review tax rules and commercial vehicle weight laws, there’s still plenty of time.

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