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Truck dealers form coalition with goal of repealing federal excise tax

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American Truck Dealer Chairwoman Jodie Teuton said a newly formed coalition has two goals: Repeal the federal excise tax on commercial trucks and find an acceptable replacement for the lost revenue from the FET that provides a long-term solution to help fund the highways and modernize America’s fleets. (Courtesy: AMERICAN TRUCK DEALERS

By CHARLES CYRILL

ATD/NADA Director of Public Relations

SAN FRANCISCO — The American Truck Dealers (ATD) has formed a new coalition of industry stakeholders who goal will be to repeal the federal excise tax (FET) on commercial truck sales.

ATD Chairwoman Jodie Teuton revealed the formation of the coalition during her keynote remarks at the recent ATD Show here.

“Repealing this 102-year-old tax remains our No. 1 priority. This tax discourages the deployment of today’s cleaner, safer and more fuel-efficient heavy-duty trucks,” said Teuton, vice president of Kenworth of Louisiana and Hino of Baton Rouge. “And this year, we won’t be alone in the fight. We now have some strong industry allies.”

The coalition, called Modernize the Truck Fleet, includes ATD; Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA), whose members are Daimler Trucks North America, Navistar, PACCAR, Volvo Group North America and Cummins; NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry; and the Truck Renting & Leasing Association (TRALA).

“The truck industry is united, and we have two goals: Repeal the FET and find an acceptable replacement for the lost revenue from the FET that provides a long-term solution to help fund our highways and modernize America’s fleets,” Teuton said. “We’re joining our efforts this year to include the FET repeal in a comprehensive infrastructure bill.”

Teuton said the FET adds significant cost [$12,000 to $22,000] to a new truck and hurts dealership customers by preventing them from investing more in their businesses.

Enacted in 1917, the FET was meant to be a temporary measure to help pay for World War I. Today, it is the highest percentage tax that Congress levies on a product.

“This Congress, we have a unique opportunity to make FET repeal a reality,” Teuton said. “Both Congress and the administration are discussing a comprehensive infrastructure bill that would address funding. This is our best shot in decades to eliminate this tax.”

Teuton urged ATD member dealers to ramp up their grassroots efforts and get involved by contacting their members in Congress.

“We need each one of you in this fight,” she said. “Your senator or representative may be the one to make the difference.”

Teuton also discussed the critical shortage of service technicians at truck dealerships adding that a major disconnect exists between supply and demand, which is affecting the ability of dealerships to provide service to their customers.

“Every year our industry needs thousands of technicians—and the numbers are rising. In truck dealerships, we are seeing a shortage of 9,000 technicians per year,” she said. “Across the entire industry, including auto dealerships, there’s a shortage of almost 50,000 technicians per year.”

Teuton called on dealers to promote career opportunities at their dealerships in communities across the country.

“I’d like every truck dealer to help ATD get the word out now: Dealership jobs are rewarding, challenging and pay well,” she said. “Technician jobs at dealerships average $61,000 per year with benefits. Some of the best paid people in my dealerships are technicians.”

From industry disruptions to economic headwinds, Teuton added that commercial truck dealerships have remained resilient and are adapting to market challenges.

“U.S. retail sales of Class 8 trucks were at historic levels, and order boards are filled well into this year. Freight growth was robust and consistent. And dealers nationwide are selling some of the cleanest and most advanced trucks we’ve seen,” she said. “These numbers are proof of our industry’s hard work, and our ability to adapt to the technological changes all around us.”

ATD, a division of NADA, represents more than 1,800 heavy- and medium-duty truck dealerships.

 

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ACT Research says preliminary January trailer orders show 7% drop from December

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An ACT Research executive said with backlogs extending through the year for dry vans and reefers, OEMs would likely need to quickly open 2020 orderbooks to allow for further backlog growth in the near-term. (Courtesy: GREAT DANE)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — ACT’s preliminary estimate for January 2019 net trailer orders is 25,800 units.

Final volume will be available later this month.

ACT said its methodology allows it to generate a preliminary estimate of the market that should be within +/- 3 percent of the final order tally.

“While the industry had the weakest January order volume since 2016, it was still sufficient enough to generate very minor orderboard growth,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s Director of CV transportation analysis and research. “January net orders were off 7 percent versus December and 35 percent down year-over-year. Slower dry van and reefer trailer volume contributed to the declines. Indications are lower orders were not the result of weak fleet demand, as some OEMs report unwillingness to accept additional orders that would extend orderboards that, according to some reports, already fill available 2019 build slots.”

Maly also noted that the slight gain in the orderboard means that January was the third consecutive month that the industry posted an all-time record backlog, although the pace of improvement is beginning to wane.

“With backlogs extending through the year for dry vans and reefers, OEMs would likely need to quickly open 2020 orderbooks to allow for further backlog growth in the near-term,” he said. “Also, although the industry reported the highest monthly cancellations since August 2016, the rate of cancellations versus the orderboard remains well within acceptable limits.”

ACT Research is a leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

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BestDrive opens locations in Texas, Arkansas and California

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The Best Drive staff stands outside the Los Angeles location. It is the company’s first location in California. (Courtesy: BEST DRIVE)

FORT MILL, S.C. — BestDrive, a commercial tire dealer and retreader focusing on Continental tire offerings, opened locations in Houston, Los Angeles and Little Rock, Arkansas, in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The openings included the retailer’s first stores in California and Arkansas.

Established in 2010, BestDrive now has 31 commercial tire centers across 17 states.

“BestDrive is committed to serving fleets across the U.S. with new tires, retreads, and tire monitoring technology,” said Sonny Simpson, managing director of BestDrive. “We continue to add locations to support our goal of delivering the lowest overall driving cost to local and national fleet customers.”

BestDrive commercial tire centers offer total fleet tire management with Continental, General Tire, and AmeriSteel brand products, as well as other supplemental tire brands, Simpson said. The dealerships equip fleets with new tires and ContiTread retread solutions as part of the ContiLifeCycle program, designed to lower costs and prolong the life of a Continental tire.

In addition to new and retread tires, BestDrive can help fleets select and implement innovative technology such as ContiPressureCheck tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), ContiConnect® remote digital tire monitoring, ContiPressureCheck Solo trailer TPMS, and Continental’s VDO Roadlog for ELD Mandate compliance. These solutions will help businesses reduce tire-related breakdowns, eliminate manual tire pressure checks, improve fuel efficiency, and extend the life of tires and casings.

Services available at all BestDrive outlets include commercial tire mounting, dismounting, and balancing, 24-hour service, wheel refinishing, new and used wheels, air-up programs, commercial truck alignments and fleet checks. The stores also offer passenger, light truck, material handling, and OTR tires.

For the most up-to-date list of locations, please visit bestdrivetire.com.

 

 

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Self-driving truck company TuSimple raises $95 million in Series D funding

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TuSimple is developing a commercial-ready Level 4 (SAE) fully-autonomous driving solution for the logistics industry. TuSimple is the only self-driving truck company capable of driving from depot-to-depot without human intervention and does so every day for its customers. (Courtesy: TUSIMPLE)

SAN DIEGO — TuSimple, a global self-driving truck company, has raised $95 million in Series D funding based on a pre-money valuation of $1 billion.

The new capital investment will be used to fund TuSimple’s commercial ramp-up and product development.

With this round, TuSimple will continue to grow its commercial autonomous fleet, which makes daily fully-autonomous deliveries in Arizona, and soon in Texas, for large shippers and fleets, according to Dr. Xiaodi Hou, founder, president and chief technology officer.

The fleet allows the company to earn revenue while validating its SAE Level 4 fully-autonomous system, he said.

The company currently has 12 contracted customers and is making three to five delivery trips per day. It will use the funds to grow the fleet to over 50 trucks by June.

The investment will also be used to fund critical joint production programs with its OEM, Tier 1, and sensor partners in order to achieve full commercialization, Hou said. Suppliers essential to truck manufacturing are working with TuSimple on the integration of autonomous software with powertrain, braking and steering systems, an essential step for the commercial production and operation of self-driving trucks.

The $95 million financing was completed in December 2018.

This brings TuSimple’s total funding to date to $178 million. This latest round was led by Sina Corp., a technology company widely recognized for developing Weibo, a social media platforms. Composite Capital, a Hong Kong-based investment firm focused on consumer, technology and transportation companies globally also participated in this round.

“TuSimple consistently reaches their milestones on and ahead of schedule and we are confident that they are poised to bring the first commercial self-driving trucks to market,” said Colin Xie, vice general manager, investment department, Sina Corp. “We are focused on finding the global leaders in artificial intelligence and TuSimple is ahead of the pack. The combination of technical excellence and an impressive leadership team has propelled the company into unicorn status.”

“Autonomous driving is one of the most complex AI systems humans have ever built. After three years of intense focus to reach our technical goals, we have moved beyond research into the serious work of building a commercial solution,” Hou said. “We are thankful for the continued support of our investors and partners. This is not only a great sign of confidence in TuSimple, but also for the future of autonomous trucking.”

TuSimple’s Level 4 fully-autonomous semi-trucks are the only trucks capable of driving from depot-to-depot without human intervention, Hou said.

To support Level 4 driving on complex highway and local streets, the company has developed an innovative camera-centric perception solution that allows TuSimple’s trucks to see 1,000 meters ahead of the vehicle, Hou said, noting that the vision range is farther and delivers better visibility than any other autonomous driving system today.

This level of performance is essential for autonomous commercial trucks to operate safely at highway speeds — rain or shine, he said.

“TuSimple is aiming to transform the $800-billion U.S. trucking industry by increasing safety, lowering costs, reducing carbon emissions and providing tools to optimize fleet logistics for operators,” Hou said.

TuSimple is headquartered in San Diego and operates self-driving trucks out of Tucson, Arizona.

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