U.S. Xpress announces investment in autonomous trucking firm

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Jan. 22, 2021:

U.S. Xpress invests in autonomous trucking firm TuSimple
U.S. Xpress Enterprises (CCJ Top 250, No. 15) announced an investment in self-driving tech company TuSimple. In addition to a significant financial investment, U.S. Xpress is actively testing the technology on select shipping lanes.

“We’re passionate about finding innovative solutions to industry challenges and investing now will give us a clear advantage when this technology matures in the years to come,” said U.S. Xpress CEO Eric Fuller. “

U.S. Xpress has been working with TuSimple since 2019 and has recently begun testing the autonomous technology on select lanes for some of its major customers. From this testing, TuSimple can gather vital information and benchmark safety and efficiency standards which will help bring the technology to market safely and reliably.

Earlier this week, Werner also announced an investment in the firm.

TuSimple announces Executive Advisory Board members
TuSimple earlier this week announced the members of its newly established Executive Advisory Board, which will provide strategic advice to the company to accelerate the adoption of autonomous long-haul freight in areas including regulation, technology, freight logistics and leadership.

The members are: Jeff Denham, former U.S. Representative; Eric Fuller, President and CEO, U.S. Xpress; Steve Girsky, Managing Partner, VectoIQ; Jim Kolbe, former U.S. Representative; Derek Leathers, Vice Chairman, President, CEO, Werner Enterprises; Mark Rourke, President and CEO, Schneider; Jean-Jacquest Ruest, President and CEO, CN.

Fleet rolls out new driver pay plan, owner-op leasing plan
Missouri-based Artur Express recently rolled out a new company driver pay plan and what it calls a Profit Leasing Program for owner-operators.

According to the company, the Truckers’ Company Driver Pay Plan is based on seven areas of performance: experience, safety, on-time performance, driver habits, technology, miles and longevity. Each driver is awarded points for their performance in each area. Their total score determines their placement in one of three different pay categories: basic, professional and expert.

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“On day one, drivers start at the 'professional' level,” the company said in a statement. “Their scores are updated at the start of every quarter. However, if a driver is consistently trending in the expert area before the quarter is over, they may have the opportunity to be promoted sooner. Drivers are given updates on their scores every week so they can watch their trends. Depending on how many miles someone drives per week, it will show whether or not they’re on pace to hit the maximum points allowed for that area.”

The company is also offering what it says is “a truly unique” Walk Away Lease Program for eligible contractors. One of the main aspects of this program is that Artur pays the driver per mile and all deductions are per mile as well. The driver only pays when they are rolling.

Other notable aspects of the Profit Leasing program include no down payment or fixed lease payment.

Other perks in the owner-operator program include:

  • No negative settlement guarantee
  • Bumper to bumper warranty for the entire lease term
  • Preventive maintenance that includes oil changes, tires, brakes, and sub-rentals
  • 70 to 90 percent drop and hook
  • Fuel cards, cash advances available, monthly fuel rebates
  • 1099 contractor status
  • Your choice between regional or OTR dry van, OTR reefer or Expedited (team) freight
  • No forced dispatch – contractors choose what loads are best for them via Artur’s online load board

To be qualified for the Profit Leasing program, contractors must have at least two years of driving experience and a clean driving record.