Our very own John Ciarlone, director of product development, spoke today at the esteemed Ceres Conference in San Francisco. As part of a wider panel John discussed the continued environmental impact of the transportation sector and how advances in electric vehicle technology have sparked new interest from investors. This breakout session brought together influential companies to highlight the benefits of corporate electrification and how it is changing the future of our transportation system to get us to a clean energy economy. Stay tuned for a full event summary next week.

Automobiles have caused problems for society, safety, and the environment, but solutions are available today to combat these issues without compromising mobility, Lukas Neckermann, managing director of Neckermann Strategic Advisors, told NAFA I&E attendees on Wednesday.

Neckermann identified the problems caused by the rise of vehicle use: Congestion causes lost hours while drivers sit in traffic, vehicle-related deaths have not decreased sufficiently, and climate change has resulted in an increase in the number of severe weather events.

He also identified solutions to the problems, which fleets can implement. Fleets can invest in electric vehicles, which he argues does have a return on investment, and OEMs will be releasing 200 new plug-in vehicles in the next 36 months. Neckermann suggested adding advanced technology to all new vehicles, including blind spot detection and forward collision warning, as these technologies have been proven to reduce crashes. Finally, he said that ride-hailing, carpooling, and other mobility solutions can replace part of fleets.

By reducing the number of vehicles, investing in electric vehicles, and purchasing vehicles with advanced safety technology, fleet managers can improve mobility while reducing the negative effects of modern transportation systems.

Source: Automotive Fleet

With electric car ownership reaching levels not seen in over a century, and electric trucks clearly on the horizon electric utilities and municipalities on the West Coast are exploring ways to provide electric vehicle (EV) charging stations along the region's busy Interstate 5 corridor and major roads feeding into it.

Nine electric utilities and two agencies representing more than two dozen municipal utilities are sponsoring the West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative, a study to determine how best to ensure that Interstate 5 a lifeline of goods transportation that extends more than 1,300 miles from the Canadian to the Mexican border is equipped with sufficient charging to support electric long-haul trucks.

These utilities and municipalities say creating infrastructure for electric trucks along the corridor will improve air quality and health in the communities they serve.

In California, for example, the transportation sector accounts for nearly 80% of the state's air pollution and more than 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Washington and Oregon face similar environmental challenges, transportation being the largest contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in those states as well.

The study will explore how best to provide EV charging on I-5 and its connecting routes for medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks that are being introduced by several major vehicle manufacturers, as well as to help determine what role electricity providers can play in electrifying the corridor. Key locations for electric truck charging infrastructure will also be identified and prioritized.

Other initiative sponsors include the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Northern California Power Agency, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Pacific Power, Portland General Electric, Puget Sound Energy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Public Power Authority.

"Many of the utilities represented in this partnership have programs to support charging electric vehicles that travel within our own territories, but for extended shipping and long-haul trucks, we need solutions that we can apply across utility territories," said Caroline Choi, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs for Edison International and Southern California Edison, one of the utilities sponsoring the study.

"Well-planned electric charging infrastructure along I-5 is important to our region," said Scott Bolton, senior vice president of External Affairs for Pacific Power. "The I-5 corridor is the economic backbone for transporting essential goods and services to our Oregon, Washington and California customers. We see investments in transportation electrification and electric charging infrastructure as a great way to support the economic vitality and environmental quality of communities along the corridor."

"It's these types of opportunities that continue to push us toward a more sustainable future," said Bill Boyce manager of Electric Transportation for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. "We are proud to partner on a local, regional and national level to reduce emissions from vehicles, and this effort to electrify our trade corridors will have significant benefits to the communities we serve."

Those benefits include improved health, according to a release detailing the planned study, which referenced data showing that people who live near truck-traffic corridors experience higher rates of asthma, lung and heart disease and chronic bronchitis due largely to breathing toxic vehicle emissions, specifically diesel particulate matter.

"We are coming together on a regional level and taking the lead, working across state, county and city lines to take a significant step to address air pollution and climate change," said Dave Robertson, vice president of Public Policy at Portland General Electric. "By ensuring customers involved in electric truck technology can expect a consistent and reliable experience up and down I-5 and its connected major arteries, we can accelerate a future where all-electric big rigs haul freight without polluting our communities."

The study is expected to be concluded by year's end, with implementation of recommendations expected as soon as next year.

Source: Trucking Info

Funny thing about traction: It's hard to tell how much you need, but it's easy to tell when you don't have enough. That's one of my favorite quotes from Bridgestone's former director of engineering for commercial tires, Guy Walenga. He's retired now, and we sure miss his colorful observations about truck tires.

Drivers fret about traction all the time. They get pretty excited if they even think a certain tread type doesn't look grippy enough. But true to Walenga's point, traction, or lack of it, is probably more of a worry than a real threat. It's true that a rib drive tire may not have the grip in snow or mud that an open-shoulder drive tire has, but will the next round of greenhouse gas emissions reductions and their demands for lower-rolling-resistance tires cause traction problems or compromise braking performance?

This issue came up last summer when I spent a couple of days on a test track with Meritor putting various combinations of drum- and disc-brake equipped tractors and trailers through their paces in stopping distance tests. It was a warm, sunny summer day and the concrete pavement was hot and dry. With all the combinations we tested, we consistently stopped from 60 mph in a shorter distance than the reduced stopping distance braking requirements demanded. (We had trailer brakes too, and the trucks used in those tests do not.) Some of the stops we made were below 200 feet. That's 50 feet less than the RSD requirements call for, so we were well under the wire.

We did have some ABS activity on the steer axle, on drum and disc equipped trucks, which suggests those tires broke traction under the severe hard braking. That's easy to understand when you have 100 psi or more actuating the brakes. But the ABS did its job and the trucks stopped perfectly straight.

But for the 2021 round of GHG reductions, tire makers will need to lower the rolling resistance even further than the tires we were using.

"The brakes will continue to produce the same amount of torque as they do now, and they do not care what kind of tire is making contact with the pavement," says Mark Ugo, senior test engineer for brakes at Meritor. "If the tire breaks traction, ABS will step in. That's what it's designed to do."

Bendix, too is keeping an eye on this, but doesn't expect any significant issues to arise.

"It depends on tire construction, rubber compounds and things of that nature, but there could be some minor impact on traction," says Keith McComsey, director of marketing and customer solutions for wheel-ends at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake. "With air disc brakes, Bendix exceeds the [Reduced Stopping Distance] requirements by 20%, so we're down in the 200-foot range. We are about 10% under on the drum side. The OEMs want that margin because they know there's configuration differences in the vehicle that impact braking as well, whether it's tire combinations or wheel base combinations."

Designing tires for GHG II

Tire manufacturers have several options for reducing rolling resistance without necessarily compromising traction, including changes to the rubber compounding, tire shape, tread pattern, tire construction, and weight.

"The key to developing a successful product is coming up with the right combination of all these factors to get what the consumer needs," says Phillip Mosier, manager of commercial tire development for Cooper Tire. "When developing low-rolling-resistance tires, we must take into account the regulatory requirements and consumers' needs to come up with a successful product. So, the proper balance of rolling resistance, treadwear, and traction must be maintained. It is possible to meet the rolling resistance requirements of GHG II and the stopping distance requirements from the reduced stopping distance mandate with low-rolling-resistance tires."

Tire manufacturers work to optimize the "performance triangle" of rolling resistance, traction, and miles to removal. In the past, when one performance benefit, such as low rolling resistance, was optimized, the remaining benefits of the performance triangle sometimes took a back seat. Goodyear says that dynamic is much less prevalent these days.

"We are constantly developing technologies and designs to minimize tire performance trade-offs, so fleets can enjoy optimal, all-around tire performance," says Mahesh Kavaturu, Goodyear's commercial technology director. "That said, as fuel efficiency regulations tighten, the need for new truck tires and even retreads that offer lower levels of rolling resistance will continue to grow, which is why we are investing even more resources to develop tires that help reduce fuel consumption while, at the same time, helping to ensure that our products provide the traction that fleets also require."

The major tire companies are all concerned with traction to a certain degree, and many of the changes required to meet rolling resistance through compounding have already been made, said one tire expert who preferred not to be quoted. "Moving that bar even lower to where it's going with GHG II, you'll see changes in tire construction and changes in the rubber compounds used within the casing – not necessarily in the compounds that hit the road," he says. "The easy fruit, per se, was the tread compounding."

Obviously, the tire makers are not going to share detailed plans for meeting GHG II at this point, but traction will be front and center, including wet traction, which is not a part of the reduced stopping distance rules.

"The GHG II push for increasingly lower tire rolling resistance is certainly a challenge to tire designers, especially while balancing the other performances, like wear and traction, that are important to customers," says Sharon Cowart, B2B product marketing director, Michelin North America. "Tire designers continue to strive to break those performance compromises through rubber formulation and tread design."

Application-specific tires

One possible offshoot of the push for lower rolling resistance might be more application-specific tires, with traction considerations designed for the service the tire will see.

"While keeping the performance triangle in mind, it's also important to consider the question, 'What is this tire being asked to do?'" Kavaturu explains. "A mixed-service tire that has been designed to roll across severe terrain might not be the best choice for a long-haul truck, and a long-haul tire that has been engineered for low rolling resistance is probably not the ideal choice for a truck that primarily travels off-road, across debris-strewn surfaces. Some tires are better-suited to certain applications than others."

Goodyear plans to release two application-specific tires toward the end of 2019, the Fuel Max RTD and the Ultra Max RTD. The company says the Fuel Max RTD balances traction with fuel efficiency, achieved through inclusion of a new low-rolling-resistance tread compound, and long miles to removal. The Ultra Grip RTD is designed for regional trucks that run in severe weather conditions and is engineered for exceptional severe-weather traction.

The debate over traction in fuel-efficient tires isn't new. GHG II will push tire makers to comply while maintaining the traction and tire wear attributes fleets demand. They have risen to the challenge in the past. Our bet is they will do it again.

Source: Trucking Info

The NYC Vision Zero action plan is an example of safety leadership and putting people first. New York City is aiming to become the "world's safest big city."

Efforts have already made significant improvements. In the Vision Zero Year Four update, New York City reported a 28 percent reduction in traffic fatalities and 45 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities since the start of the program in 2014.

To address its epidemic of traffic fatalities and injuries, New York City, which experiences about 250 traffic-related deaths and 4,000 non-fatal serious injuries per year or one traffic fatality or injury every two hours, implemented a city-wide Vision Zero Initiative. New York City has committed the use of every available tool to improve road safety, particularly, in how it is monitoring and managing the city's vehicle fleet.

What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is a road safety initiative founded by the Swedish government in 1997, which has been successfully implemented throughout Europe, and is now spreading throughout the United States.

At its foundation, Vision Zero starts with an ethical belief in the right of everyone to be able to safely move throughout their communities and aims to involve all the stakeholders in a city's transportation system, including fleet and safety personnel to reduce and ultimately eliminate the risks inherent in the way traffic is traditionally managed.

Dozens of cities of all sizes across the United States from Washington, D.C., to Anchorage Alaska are taking part in the initiative.

How is Vision Zero different from a safety program?

Vision Zero starts with the premise that traffic deaths are preventable, but that human beings will make mistakes and crashes will occur. This leads to developing traffic systems to lessen the severity of crashes instead of a focus on perfecting human behavior.

Vision Zero doesn't rely on a silver-bullet solution. Instead, it uses a multidisciplinary approach and techniques, including technology and a reliance on data-driven approaches, to achieve the goal of zero traffic fatalities or severe injuries.

To become a Vision Zero City, a municipality must meet four minimum standards, including:

  • Setting the clear goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries.
  • Having the mayor publicly and officially commit to Vision Zero.
  • Putting a Vision Zero plan or strategy in place, having the commitment to do so within a clear time frame.
  • Engaging key city departments, including police, transportation, and public health.

Technology is a key part of New York's Vision Zero program

In addition to redesigning streetscapes, enforcing traffic safety, and educating the public, New York City is looking at vehicle technology as part of their range of safety initiatives.

Telematics fits perfectly into Vision Zero because of its data-gathering and analysis capabilities.

As part of the city's Vision Zero Initiative, the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) implemented a telematics program powered by Geotab.

Using the Geotab technology and platform, DCAS developed an operations and incident management system, Fleet Office Real-Time Tracking (FORT), to monitor real-time location and alerts from city fleet vehicles. FORT is used to tie many of the city's safety initiatives, such as collision tracking, safe driving, and emergency management, into one easy- to-use system. With this telematics data, real-time key safety event information is presented to DCAS fleet managers and supervisors. This helps protect city drivers and to make NYC streets safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, and commercial and private vehicles.

In addition to implementing FORT, NYC developed a technology-focused Safe Fleet Transition Plan (SFTP) to support its Vision Zero initiative. The SFTP is a formalized set of best-practice vehicle safety technologies to prevent and mitigate crashes by making large city vehicles safer. The success of the SFTP depends on a cross-agency communication, agency readiness to adopt new safety technologies, and working closely with private industry.

In the plan, the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) presented a number of potential new fleet technologies, which were investigated and benchmarked by Together for Safer Roads and other agencies:

  • High vision truck cabs
  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Pedestrian Collision Warning (PCW)
  • Backup alarms
  • External cameras and recording

Why does it matter?

Deaths and injuries related to motor vehicle collisions continue to be a scourge around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that worldwide, there are around 1.35 million deaths annually related to vehicle collisions; with another 20-50 million suffering non-fatal, but life-altering injuries. Treatment, productivity, and compensation expenses related to accidents can cost as much as 3 percent of a country's gross domestic product (GDP) for the U.S. alone that would translate to $624 billion annually, based the country's 2018 GDP.

Grimly, the U.S. has the highest traffic fatality rate in the developed world with large vehicles accounting for a disproportionately growing number of them, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).

Even though large municipal vehicles, such as fire trucks and waste management vehicles, only make up 4 percent of U.S. fleet vehicles, they collectively account for 7 percent of all pedestrian, 11 percent of all bicyclist, and 12 percent of all car and light-truck fatalities.


There can be little argument that telematics is transforming the way fleets are being managed, making it more data-driven science than art.

But telematics is having wider impacts than just the management of fleet vehicles. Paired with the road-safety initiative Vision Zero, telematics is helping pave the way towards a fatality and serious-injury free future.

Source: Geotab