Mike Roeth on the Future of Freight Efficiency: “It’s an Exciting Time to Be in Trucking”

08.19.20 | Podcast | By:

On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast, I spoke with Mike Roeth, Executive Director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). Following are a few excerpts from our discussion, which you can download or listen to at the link below or listen to in ITunes.

On the Potential for Heavy-Duty Electrification:

“I had my doubts, and I still do. Let me just tell you how I think about it now, actually, how NACFE thinks about it and what we’ve concluded from our work on electric trucks. First of all, you mentioned four years ago. If I went back four years ago, I think my reaction would was, ‘Come on. Batteries moving freight? I mean, that’s why we have engines and that’s why we burn oil.’


The first hurdle was getting over that the batteries could do it. I think they can. Now, can they go the full trip, and what about dwell time and charge times and how many miles can you get on the charge? All that’s got to be dealt through and worked on. Maybe it will be some of the market, not all of it, but the fact of the matter is I and the industry had to get over the batteries could even do the job, and yes, they can.


Then it was like, ‘Okay, well, maybe the batteries will do it, but we don’t have the trucks. The current truck companies are just too invested in diesel, and they’re working hard on it.’ Well, it was a big moment in 2017 when Tesla has its big semi-truck launch, and we’re all like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I was there,’ and we all saw that.


But what was most interesting, maybe in addition to that night, but maybe more importantly was how in the next months following did all of these projects come out of the woodwork, even with traditional diesel players like Cummins and Daimler and so forth, where they had electric truck programs going, and that just sort of brought them out from their research and development areas and maybe skunkworks and into the real world. Now we’ve got the trucks coming…”

On the Future of Freight Efficiency and How It May Evolve in the Coming Years:

“Maybe there’s an automated self-driving truck as part of that system where possibly exit-to-exit on freeways we can do trucking, or maybe there’s a driverless platooned truck following one with a driver in it. But we see a lot of change there as we move forward, and that change needs to take into account these different items we’ve talked about over our time together here, whether it’s electric or hydrogen or whatever that needs to fit in to this new system of goods movement. Very exciting time to be in trucking. I think that it’s been an industry that some I’ve looked at is kind of, ‘Who wants to do trucking? I mean, those big trucks just get in my way on the freeway,’ but it’s cool. It’s cool. It’s dynamic. There’s a lot of interesting players, and the industry is much more accepting to the technologies than a lot of people think.”



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