Truck tonnage down to begin 2024

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024:

Truck tonnage dips to start 2024

ATA Truck Tonnage Index January 2024ATA's Truck Tonnage Index saw a 4.7% year-over-year decrease in January, with a 3.5% month-over-month decrease from December.ATA

The amount of freight moved by trucks in January was down from December due to winter weather and other factors, according to the American Trucking Associations’ latest Truck Tonnage Index report.

ATA’s advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 3.5% in January after increasing 1.2% in December. In January, the index equaled 111.0 (2015=100) compared with 115.0 in December.

“January’s data was a snap back to reality for anyone thinking the freight market was about to turn the corner,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Bad winter weather in January likely hurt volumes, not to mention sharp drops in a number of drivers of tonnage including retail sales, housing starts and manufacturing output.”

Compared with January 2023, the seasonally-adjusted index fell 4.7%, which was the 11th straight year-over-year decrease. In December, the index was down 0.8% from a year earlier.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 109.4 in January, 0.7% below December’s level (110.2). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

Ryder expands U.S./Mexico border operation

Ryder System, Inc., (CCJ Top 250, No. 12) is opening a new logistics operation in Laredo, Texas and expanding its drayage yard in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to support growth in manufacturing, while speeding products across the border.The ports of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo now comprise the top inland transborder trade port between the U.S. and Mexico, after Mexico’s rise to the number one spot among U.S. trading partners last year.

“If you look at the market, truck border crossing activity between the U.S. and Mexico is up more than 20% annually since the pandemic, as more businesses look to nearshoring to diversify their supply chains and shorten lead times,” said Ricardo Alvarez, vice president of supply chain operations for Ryder Mexico. “The savings from manufacturing overseas can be offset by inventory sitting on ships or in seaports incurring storage fees; and, of course, by the product being unavailable to meet demand. With Mexico, you put what you need on a truck and it can be in a final-mile distribution center within days, not months.”

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Ryder’s newly built 228,000-square-foot multiclient warehouse and cross dock in Laredo is strategically located just three miles from the World Trade Bridge on the U.S.-Mexico border with easy interstate access in both directions. It has 102 dock doors, room for 143 trailers, and it’s within a six-mile radius of Ryder’s other operations in Laredo, which allows for overflow and pooling of labor and resources for added flexibility.

On the Mexico side, Ryder is expanding its Nuevo Laredo drayage yard, which facilitates the transfer of freight across the border to U.S. drivers.

Ryder Mexico manages nearly 250,000 freight movements annually across the entire Mexican border, supporting customers in the automotive, industrial, technology, and consumer packaged goods industries. The company also operates five million square feet of multiclient and dedicated warehouse and yard space across Mexico.

Trucking conditions declined in December to close out 2023

Conditions for trucking companies in December declined as a result of low freight rates and higher costs.

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for December fell to a reading of -4.31 from -1.35 in November. Although December’s TCI was weaker than November’s index, it otherwise indicated the least negative overall market conditions for carriers since May.

December’s decrease was due mostly to a higher cost of capital and a deterioration in freight rates, FTR noted. The outlook remains below neutral market conditions through 2024.

“We finally see indications that larger carriers are no longer absorbing the bulk of driver capacity displaced by failing small carriers, suggesting a steady tightening of capacity that eventually could spark a turn in the market,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking. “If the recent upturn in diesel prices continues, the capacity drain among small carriers might accelerate. Even so, the industry will need stronger freight demand, and we still don’t see any significant inflection in volume until at least the second half of this year.”

Nearly 900 Internationals, small number of Freightliners recalled over steering gear assemblies

The same steering gear assembly issue that prompted the recall of more than 47,000 Kenworth and Peterbilt tractors has now resulted in the recall of approximately 893 International trucks and 11 Freightliner units, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

In the affected units, the steering gear assemblies may have been assembled incorrectly with fewer recirculating balls than are required, which may result in a loss of steering control.

International’s recall includes certain model year 2024 International HX, LT and RH trucks, and 2024-‘25 International HV and MV trucks, as well as certain 2024 IC Bus commercial buses.

The suspect population was identified by models equipped with R. H. Sheppard M100P, M110P, HD94P, XD120P, MD83, SD110P, M83P, and M94S model steering gears.

Dealers will inspect and replace the defective gears, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 18. Owners can contact Navistar's customer service at 1-800-448-7825 with recall number 24503. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-088.

Freightliner’s recall includes approximately 11 model year 2024 Freightliner Cascadia and Freightliner Custom Chassis MT45G and MT45 units.

Dealers will replace the steering gears, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed April 8. Owners can contact Daimler Trucks North America customer service at 1-800-745-8000 with recall number FL995. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-093.

[Related: Recall issued for 47K Kenworth, Peterbilt trucks]

Western Stars recalled over suspension issue

Daimler Trucks North America is recalling approximately 49 model year 2022-‘24 Western Star 49X trucks in which the suspension hanger may fail due to missing welds, which can result in difficulty steering and maintaining the direction of the front two wheels.

DTNA said the torque rods on the affected trucks are attached to a slippered suspension hanger. The suspension hangar is missing certain welds, which may then concentrate strain in the welded areas of the part. Over time, this may cause the welded areas of the part to fatigue and crack, and the part could eventually fail.

The remedy for the issue is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed April 8. Owners can contact DTNA customer service at 800-745-8000 with recall number FL994. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-084.