World’s top transportation executives discuss challenges, share optimism

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Updated May 22, 2024
ACT Expo 2024 opening remarks and discussion panel
Transportation industry executives from global companies such as IKEA and PepsiCo sit for a panel discussion following the opening remarks at this year's ACT Expo in Las Vegas.
Clean Trucking

The 2024 Advanced Clean Transportation Expo officially kicked off in Las Vegas on Monday with a panel discussion that included some of the world’s top transportation industry leaders and they all had the same message: we want to and must reduce our carbon footprint.

“We’re looking at [the climate crisis] at a global level and it doesn’t really matter which market,” said Elisabeth Fauvelle Munck af Rosenschöld, Global Sustainability Manager of IKEA. “We have the same agenda, the same goals. It’s super important to first reduce emissions here and now to the greatest extent possible. Long-term, we need to focus with the same intensity.” 

Other panel participants included: 

  • Jim Monkmeyer, President of Transportation of DHL Supply Chain
  • Dan Purefoy, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Sysco
  • Javier Garcia Atique, Regional Head of Customer Delivery for Landside Transportation, Maersk
  • David Allen, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, PepsiCo Foods North America

These executives also expressed the necessity to add electrification to freight trucking operations and that collaboration is essential.

We have a very large footprint, so we need partners that can scale with us,” said Purefoy. “We’re still early in the game with the transition we’re seeing today. Getting very good visibility with the work we’re doing. Entire company, including the board, is committed to doing this. Sysco is doing all it can do to preserve the environment we’ll be passing on.” 

Businesses big and small will have to make the 100% zero emissions transition by 2040, according to the Phase 3 EPA guidelines announced last March. The estimated price tag is $1 trillion. There are, of course, many concerns and unanswered questions. 

“The U.S. is more into making investments in infrastructure while in Europe the investments are more with vendors,” explained Atique. “The equipment and assets are more expensive. Everyone needs to come together to push in the same direction. Need to make it economically viable so it becomes a solution you can scale. There are very small margins in this business [and we need to make sure we ] aren’t passing costs onto customers.” 

The challenges and investments are immense but they all agreed that it is important to work with other companies who acknowledge the writing on the wall. 

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“We want to do business with those who share our values from a sustainability perspective. We’re seeing a good evolution and good ideas coming from our supply chain partners,” said Allen. “We’re rethinking our entire footprint and business. It’s a new priority vs. trying to continue to operate as we have been.” 

Another and, perhaps, sometimes overlooked industry issue is driver comfort. "We want to create a better environment and one for drivers," added Atique.

Allen noted that PepsiCo, which currently has around 100 Tesla Semis operating in California, has seen a "much improved employee experience that helps us attract and retain drivers. There's a halo effect: drivers feel good about the vehicle they are using."  

This year's ACT Expo is twice the size as last year's event thanks to a growing number of vendors displaying improvements to existing technologies, such as diesel and natural gas, as well as those introducing some of the latest developments in battery and fuel cell electrification. 

"We're very about today’s solutions. Optimizations are already having an impact," Allen concluded. "We’re just hitting a speed bump right. There will be ups and downs. It's the hockey stick effect. We’ll get there. We’ll hit those numbers." 

Jay Traugott has covered the automotive and transportation sector for over a decade and now serves as Senior Editor for Clean Trucking. He holds a drifting license and has driven on some of the world's best race tracks, including the Nurburgring and Spa. He lives near Boulder, Colorado, and spends his free time snowboarding, climbing, and hiking. He can be reached at [email protected].

Hydrogen Fuel Cell & BEV Survey
The following survey was sent as a link in an email cover message in February 2023 to the newsletter lists for Overdrive and CCJ. After approximately two weeks, a total of 176 owner-operators under their own authority, 113 owner-operators leased or assigned to a carrier and 82 fleet executives and 36 fleet employees from fleets with 10 or more power units had completed and submitted the questionnaire for a total of 407 qualified responses. Cross-tabulations based on respondent type are provided for each question when applicable.
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