Publication Name: thehindubusinessline.com
Date: June 2021
Trucking globally is set to become a cool career for 20 somethings, women
OEMs are working towards to make trucks less ‘macho.’
Truck driving is set to become a fun, enjoyable, and attractive occupation for millions of young drivers around the globe as many commercial truck manufacturers in the US, Europe, and other parts of the world are currently in the process of designing sophisticated, semi-autonomous/autonomous and intelligent trucks.
Truck driving usually is a cumbersome, dull, and monotonous job as drivers have to be stuck to the wheel for hours and days at a stretch on highways without proper rest, family connection, social life, or entertainment. These odds are keeping millions of youngsters away from taking up careers in trucking even though unemployment is on the rise.
The US currently has a shortage of 60,000 drivers, and the gap is only widening, while Europe is facing a 17 percent shortage of truck drivers, though the UK alone has over 300,000 truck drivers. The shortage of drivers is felt all over the world, including in India.
The average age of truckers globally is 50, and only 5 percent are under the age of 25. Most drivers are male, and women drivers account for only 2 percent, as per recent research.
Hence, the industry is under high pressure to make trucking more appealing to existing drivers, women, and Gen Z, and assisting many global truck makers with the required technology and know-how is Tata’s specialty tech arm, Tata Elxsi.
Nick Talbot, Global Design Head at Tata Elxsi, told BusinessLine. “What is sure is that goods transportation is undergoing a revolution, possibly bigger than what the passenger car sector is seeing now.”'
Truck makers are beginning to invest in new technologies to achieve not only efficiencies but also to mitigate driver shortages. Volvo, DAF, Paccar, and Daimler are some truck brands that are already ‘catching up’ with carmakers in autonomous technology. Tesla has an all-EV long-haul truck in development, and start-ups like Einride from Sweden and TuSimple from California claim fully automated trucks in a five to eight-year time horizon.
Tata Elxsi’s advanced driver assist systems such as stereo cameras, Lidar and Ledar for long-range sensing, automated recognition of the environment around the truck for enhanced safety, plus its Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) help reduce the driver workload and automate more of the truck functions, making the driver safer, relaxed, focussed and efficient, claimed the company.
These initiatives are aimed at higher levels of comfort and automation, such that on longer highway runs, the driver may be able to do something else too – leisure, or a second job, explained Talbot who is responsible for all design initiatives across the globe for Tata Elxsi.
“Thanks to digital connectivity, we saw evidence of some truckers earning money from YouTube and broadcasting on Tik Tok on long-duration trips. During their downtime, they are broadcasting motivational talks, conducting sessions on health and wellness, or even doing travel blogs,” he added.
Unless trucks are made less ‘macho,’ and trucking is made interesting, soon there won’t be any truckers left to move things for the whole world. So, it is critical to change the current perception about trucking jobs, he further said.
Trucking and road transport is a huge industry worth over $700 billion globally. It is estimated that in Europe goods transport volumes will increase by 60 percent over the next five to eight years, whilst emission has to reduce by 50 percent. In Europe and the US, these reductions are already mandated by law, and other countries too are coming up with similar regulations. Here again, huge investments in cleaner and greener fuel technologies are taking place.