No it might not be Tesla red, but the big winners of the next decade will be leaders in sustainability and green tech

It’s no secret that we’re at a tipping point when it comes to sustainability in the transportation industry – according to the EPA, trucking alone contributes to almost 7% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in US. Combine that with other forms of transportation like light and medium duty vehicles, and transportation becomes the largest producer of GHG emissions in the country.

The concern from truckers and logistics providers, however, is that moving to a more sustainable model will hurt jobs, productivity, and disrupt the supply chain. However, there’s a different point of view, where instead of seeing the shift to sustainable trucking as a threat to business, companies are seeing it as an opportunity to stake a competitive advantage for the next decade and beyond.

Route Optimization

The first method that companies are using to both create more sustainable and more profitable businesses is to use route optimization to reduce driver hours and miles driven. Not only does this provide tremendous business value in terms of faster delivery and dollars saved on gas, it boosts sustainability in a way that doesn’t require you to overhaul your fleet!

It’s no wonder then, that the transportation management platform industry, and specific route optimization platforms, are growing faster than ever – with even Google jumping on board! Route optimization isn’t a permanent solution, and it won’t cut emissions completely, but this is one excellent example of how sustainability and profitability can be one and the same.

Electric Vehicles and Alternative Fuels

No article on sustainable transportation would be complete without a rundown on electric vehicles (EVs), especially in the commercial world. In the past few years, we’ve seen new companies like Tesla, as well as established players like Nissan, Toyota, and BMW make EVs not just mainstream, but cool in the consumer world. What could completely change the game, is expansion into the world of commercial logistics.

Not only are electric vehicles emission free during operation, they will provide a massive cost benefit to companies that adopt them. Although initial costs will be high, and investment will be tough, the reduced maintenance and fuel costs, especially in an era with more and more expensive diesel will more than cover the initial investment.

However, this isn’t to say EVs are perfect either – with significantly lower range, longer times to charge, and the costs of battery degradation, EVs will need a lot of work before they’re ready to overtake traditional diesel trucks. And this isn’t even considering the massive ecological damage that battery manufacture creates! What’s a logical stepping stone to EVs then?

A great potential option is the development of alternative fuel vehicles, largely running on natural gas. While these are still rare to see on the road, companies like Freightliner are already selling these on market – with great results to boot! Based on research from ACT research, sales of natural gas trucks actually are up 43% year-on-year (as of May 2019), as more and more carriers begin to expand their fleets with natural gas vehicles.

With all this in mind, it’s important to see the rise of sustainability in transportation and logistics not as a threat, but as an opportunity. With these two examples, and plenty more that haven’t been discussed, ecological sustainability can actually go hand in hand with economic profitability. The companies that adopt this way of thinking won’t just be the most sustainable in the future – they’ll be the market leaders as well.

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