Transport Industry in the Digital Price Trap

Hanover, September 2016. Competition, environmental regulations, digital technologies, new players in the transport business, a lack of qualified drivers – the transport industry is not short of challenges, as the fourth Continental Mobility Study shows. In the study, entitled „The Connected Truck,” more than half of the logistics experts surveyed fear that their industry could get left behind as digitalization progresses. „In the transport business, the slices of the pie are distributed and the customer dictates the price“ – this quote from a logistics expert in the study gets to the heart of the situation. The suggestion that cost pressure, which is enormous in any case, will continue to intensify finds agreement from 88% of logistics experts. For the majority of logistics experts (82%) in Germany, investments need to pay off within just two years.

„The compulsion to make savings in the transport industry forms the basis of our diverse efforts toward further optimization of commercial vehicles.It is also the basis of our attempts at all levels, to bring automated slipstream driving – platooning – into production as quickly as possible. We are working on the technical aspects of this. The statutory framework now needs to be put in place quickly,“ explains Dr. Elmar Degenhart, chairman of the Executive Board of the international technology company Continental at the International Motor Show Commercial Vehicles 2016 in Hanover. Continental is here to showcase innovations relating to the transformation of the industry in favor of ever greater use of digital technology. In the context of cost pressure and the stricter environmental regulations anticipated in the sector, the following statements from drivers concerning fuel-saving behavior suggest that there is still room for optimization. In local transport up to a radius of 150 kilometers, 28% of drivers surveyed in Germany report that their companies do not consider fuel-saving important. At least 19% of drivers employed in national and international long-distance haulage say the same thing. Almost half of drivers of small delivery vans and trucks weighing up to 7.5 metric tons also stress that fuel-saving behavior is not considered important. Among fleet owners and managers, however, technologies that aid fuel-saving as well as tire-pressure monitoring systems, which can likewise help considerably to influence consumption by means of the correct tire pressure, occupy second and third places on procurement wishlists.

The industry appears largely satisfied with the commercial vehicles in use today. This applies especially in respect of reliability (67%) and service and maintenance (64%). Two thirds of drivers in Germany value the dependability and user-friendliness of advanced driver assistance systems above all (66% each). It is striking that 72% of drivers with at least 30 years of professional experience would like more driver assistance systems. At the same time, there is still little interest in automated driving. Even in the face of the enormous pressure in the industry in terms of costs and competition, only 28% of logistics experts surveyed see automated driving as offering an opportunity for the sector. In China, however, the figure is almost half (47%). In this respect, the industry still has a lot of work to do to persuade and inform people before such systems can enter production.

With the „Mobility Study 2016 – The Connected Truck,” the international technology company Continental is presenting what is now its fourth mobility study. The market and social research institute (infas) surveyed logistics experts, forwarding agents, fleet operators, and long-haul drivers in Germany and China. The focus was on the challenges faced by the logistics sector as a result of digitalization and connectivity.