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Driver of the future younger, more tech savvy and paid better, predicts transport researcher

Frost & Sullivan's Sandeep Kar predicted drivers of the future to be higher paid. (The Trucker: APRILLE HANSON)

The Trucker Staff

8/20/2014

DALLAS — The driver of the future (2022) will be younger, more educated, have a greater interest in technology and be paid more than truck drivers of today, predicts Sandeep Kar, Frost & Sullivan’s global director of automotive and transportation research.

Kar made the predictions Wednesday at the Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference here prior to the Great American Trucking Show.

And perhaps surprisingly — or not — he or she will be driving a diesel-powered vehicle instead of natural gas, especially if the driver lives outside North America. That’s because natural gas isn’t expected to grow as much or as fast globally as in the U.S. for two main reasons: It costs more abroad and the infrastructure isn’t in place, especially in developing countries.

And Kar said he was interested in the “big picture,” which means global markets.

Yet in the U.S. and North America Kar sees NG continuing to proliferate, with more NG heavy-duty vehicles coming online in the coming years. In fact, he said to look for more OEMs introducing their own NG engines.

And what will the trucks of 2022 look like? They will have a smaller carbon footprint, be more fuel efficient, be safer and “smarter,” able to talk to other vehicles, the infrastructure, and communicate through social media to expedite freight delivery, pinpoint delivery times and “boost productivity,” he said.

A recent Frost & Sullivan survey shows that fleet managers are interested in “prognostic” telematics, or technology that can detect and predict an impending failure in the truck, say that it was going to overheat, tell the back office, who could contact “Al’s Garage” down the road, let the driver know to pull into Al’s for service and avoid extra down time, giving a “win-win-win” situation, Kar said.

And for end users, he said, this evolution of prognostic technology can decrease down time to such a degree that it will be worth the cost to fleets, pushing demand faster beyond 2017.

But, he said, the value of this kind of diagnostic technology isn’t fully realized until virtually every system on the truck is connected, a “plug-and-play” technological architecture, if you will, including powertrain, HVAC, safety technology etc. and more.

And the integration of these safety systems, he said, are upon us and are taking off globally among the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and subsequently in Africa and Asia.

And of course, some mention had to include the autonomous truck like the one introduced several weeks ago by Daimler in Germany, which includes a driver in the cab who is not driving the entire time and looks to come on the scene in 2025.

Kar expects these vehicles to be for dedicated, heavy use initially.