New U.S. Council for Freight Efficiency Formed to "Reinvent Trucking"

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Transportation efficiency experts from Rocky Mountain Institute, speaking at a conference in San Francisco on "reinventing fire," announced they will convene trucking industry leaders November 3, 2009 in Chicago to inaugurate the U.S Council for Freight Efficiency. The Council will develop a more profitable, efficient, and safe freight industry that ensures the environmental sustainability of moving U.S. goods. The goal is to move just as much freight on half the energy.

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This will help provide the evidence of real-world economic benefits, and ultimately accelerate market adoption of these technologies.

Transportation efficiency experts from Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), in the midst of a three-day energy-efficiency conference in San Francisco on the theme of “reinventing fire,” said they will turn next to helping reinvent the U.S. trucking industry.

Leaders of RMI’s MOVE team will announce at the RMI2009 conference here that they are joining with industry leaders to found the U.S. Council for Freight Efficiency (USCFE), establishing a trustworthy “brand” that will be acknowledged throughout the U.S. freight transportation community as an acceptable, credible source for efficiency solutions.

They are inviting freight industry stakeholders, truck OEMs, component suppliers, technology providers, innovation engineering firms, policy makers, NGO’s, and research institutes that are committed to a more profitable and sustainable industry to attend the inaugural meeting of the USCFE on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009 at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center. Additional information and registration is available at the USCFE’s website, freightefficiency.org.

“By creating a freight system shaped by accurate information, the industry can capitalize on enormous economic opportunities,” said Hiroko Kawai, principal of RMI’s MOVE team, whose name stands for mobility and vehicle efficiency. “Efficient operations can set the stage for innovative improvements that are profitable, efficient, and environmentally sustainable, in the long run.”

Kawai acknowledged that “the freight industry, and the trucking industry in particular, has been burned by a snake-oil salesman approach to technology. There is a lack of trustworthy information evaluating different technologies for fleets to make investment decisions. The same challenges are also shared by producers of technologies; they cannot accelerate the market adoption of their R&D efforts, and it is hard for them to lead the market even when they offer the necessary innovations.”

The vision of the Council for Freight Efficiency is to “drive the development and adoption of efficiency-enhancing, environmentally beneficial, and cost-effective technologies, services, and methodologies in the U.S. freight industry by establishing and communicating independent and performance-based standards.” Its members will include truck manufacturers, component suppliers, fleets, independent owner-operators, and technology design and engineering firms, as well as state and federal policy makers.

The formation of the Council for Freight Efficiency is based upon direct industry requests received during RMI’s Transformational Trucking Charrette (see original documents, video, and recorded press call here), at which a diverse group of trucking industry stakeholders met in Denver in April 2009 to discuss the barriers to, and opportunities presented by, doubling trucking efficiency – what it would take to drive just as much freight on half as much energy.

During that event, participants named three primary challenges that prevent efficiency improvements today:

  •     Conflicting information from multiple sources regarding new, cost-effective efficiency technologies
  •     Lack of translatable and customizable data (across all modes of operation)
  •     A variety of incorrect or incomplete information (within and between end-users)

The lack of confidence in performance, and an ineffective proof-of-business case involving trucking efficiency solutions, results in most industry players currently viewing investments in these solutions as an unnecessary risk .

To address these challenges, RMI and its industry partners aim to create the foremost trusted source of technical and educational information on trucking efficiency technologies. USCFE will collect, assess, and circulate performance information from testing agencies and laboratories, collect marketing and user data, and provide understandable, up-to-date efficiency information to share with technology developers, Council members, fleet owners, and truck drivers.

“The future of trucking efficiency is already here, it’s just not well distributed,” said Kawai. “We just don’t have our version of ‘Consumer Reports’ in trucking. And fleets won’t invest in new technologies and new trucks unless they know for sure that they’ll get the payback.

“This will help provide the evidence of real-world economic benefits, and ultimately accelerate market adoption of these technologies.”

Additional information and registration is available at http://www.freightefficiency.org.

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