Shippers' conditions remain positive, but expected to decline

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, July 3, 2024:

Shippers’ conditions improving, but deterioration expected in coming months

Market conditions for shippers in April improved from March, according to FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index.

The SCI for April improved to a reading of 3.0, with freight rates being the principal factor in better market conditions for shippers.

FTR said that while conditions may remain strong for a few more months, FTR is forecasting some deterioration soon with the SCI falling to more neutral readings in the months ahead.

“Freight rates in April were as favorable for shippers as they have been over the past year, but that climate likely will deteriorate modestly soon as capacity utilization has already begun to tighten a bit,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking. “However, aside from unpredictable swings in fuel costs, we do not forecast negative SCI readings over the next couple of years that come close to matching the scope of positive readings recorded from mid-2022 through the end of 2023. Much can happen to change the situation, of course, but the freight market is shaping up to be much more balanced between shippers and carriers in 2025.”

[Related: Tanking rates and soaring costs lead per-mile cost to record highs]

Drayage fleet adds 24 Volvo VNR Electrics

Hight Logistics has announced it is expanding its fleet of Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 tractors after completing a sales agreement with the OEM at the Advanced Clean Technology (ACT) Expo in Las Vegas in May.

The privately-owned drayage services fleet recently took delivery of five of the all-electric tractors. The new agreement calls for an additional nine trucks to be delivered this year and 10 more in Q1 2025.

As part of its efforts to decarbonize, the company created the Hight Electric division whose focus is solely on acquiring battery-electric vehicles, as well as developing the necessary charging infrastructure. Before making the switch to BEVs, Hight Logistics used owner-operators.

Initially, Hight Logistics added three VNR Electrics with the four-battery configuration, one of which was leased through Forum Mobility, as part of its research to better understand how battery-electric trucks work fleet-wise and in expanded operations. With the new deal now signed, the company will soon operate a total of 27 VNR Electrics, 24 with the six-battery setup that offer a range of up to 275 miles. 

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The company will use the trucks to make daily runs out of the Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland, ranging in distance from 20 to 140 miles roundtrip. Trucks will charge overnight and at warehouses between runs courtesy of the six dual charging stations. A total of 12 trucks can charge at once. 

[Related: Shippers don't care about trucking's green transformation]

International trucks caught up in growing tie rod recall

Navistar is the latest OEM to issue a recall due to a potentially faulty tie rod assembly that could affect the steering of included trucks.

Navistar’s recall affects approximately 116 model year 2025 International HV, LT, MV and RH trucks.

Tie rod assemblies in the affected units may contain ball studs that may have been incorrectly heat-treated, which can cause them to break, and possibly result in tie rod failure. Tie rod failure can cause a loss of vehicle steering control and increase the risk of a crash.

Dealers will replace the tie rod ends and realign the front axle, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Aug. 12. Owners can contact Navistar customer service at 800-448-7825 with recall number 24509. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-462.

Previously, recalls have also been issued by PaccarDaimler, Volvo and Mack due to improperly heat-treated ball studs.