In a historic meeting before the senate and on behalf of the trucking industry Mr. Chris Spear, ATA President testified about the potential resulting from rapidly incorporating new technology to assist and improve the movement of cargo throughout the country.
This event marked the first step in creating the regulations and testing for the automated trucks of the very near future. We are not talking about autonomous trucks (the ones that will drive themselves) but the latest technology that will help reduce traffic congestion, emissions to the atmosphere, but will also improve productivity. Like the new Freightliner with SAE Level 2 Technology, this allows the truck to accelerate, decelerate, and steer by itself in certain circumstances. This will still require the driver to be behind the steering wheel to supervise the overall performance just like how airplane pilots work today. Unfortunately according to statistics over 90% of highway accidents are due to human error so automated trucks makes sense in the larger picture for our industry's future.
With this step, I will not be surprised if trucks get to the $200,000 MSRP. We are not that far off that mark today. It's getting harder to get credit approvals on $70,000 trucks, can you imagine $100,000 used trucks? Trucks with better fuel mileage, automated transmissions, and minimum maintenance will run better for longer periods of time. So the trade-ins could be coming in at 700,000K miles? We are already seeing 2016 trades with that kind of mileage.
We are entering a new era, and like it or not, everyone will have to adapt to the new automated vehicles. We won't be selling torque curves, or gear ratios anymore, but we will be experts on vehicle to vehicle connectivity, on demand remote engine repair systems, lane departure settings, radar technology, and self-reverse trailer hook up. Within a year, I expect something like Toyota's Safety Sense to be part of the truck safety package. This, among other features, includes a Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, road sign identifier, and automatic emergency braking. I had the opportunity to test this system and it's almost impossible to enter into a collision.
Congress and regulators now starting to write the first drafts and create the legal framework to get the automated trucks on the road. We must support this change in technology and start familiarizing ourselves with these. History has proven that nothing stays the same, and better trucks can deliver better lives for all. (published on UTA)