Home » The World’s Biggest Shipping Company Wants To Ban Gas-Powered Trucks

The World’s Biggest Shipping Company Wants To Ban Gas-Powered Trucks

Dumptop Maersk

It’s Membership Day here at The Autopian and we’ve got shipping conglomerates asking for zero emissions (from trucks), Elon Musk asking for cheaper loans, dealers asking the Fed to slow down, and Volkswagen asking for a little help. We all get buy with a little help from our friends.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Maersk Says Zero Emissions Trucks NOW! (Or In 12 Years)

Volta Trucks

Environmental groups and certain political parties have been pushing for a reduction in greenhouse gases through various means, including bans on emissions-producing cars. While not entirely ignored, commercial trucks haven’t been included in most of these bans.

It’s therefore interesting that a large group of companies doing business in Europe have, through the non-profit The Climate Group, published a letter asking for a ban on ICE trucks by 2035. That would put big trucks on the same timetable as regular passenger vehicles (with a notable exception for construction, logging, and mining vehicles).

Here’s what the letter says:

Despite accounting for just 2% of vehicles on European roads, heavy-duty trucks are responsible for over a quarter of the EU’s road transport emissions. Road transport and HDVs are also one of the largest sources of air pollution which causes 350,000 premature deaths per year in the EU.

The technologies to decarbonise trucking and tackle harmful air pollution are already here. A 2035 zero-emissions target for new freight trucks would provide investment certainty for vehicle manufacturers, and ensure the replacement of fossil-powered truck fleet in time for the EU to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

The alliance of progressive industry stakeholders advocates for:

  • All new freight trucks should be zero emission from 2035
  • The 2030 CO2 reduction target needs to be significantly increased to 65%
  • Fuel credits should not be included in the HDV CO2 standards
  • The scope of the regulation should be extended to cover all heavy-duty vehicles

The letter also goes on to say the goal of reducing CO2 by 30% by the end of the decade should be raised to a 65% reduction.

Some of the signatories shouldn’t surprise you. Volta Trucks, which is building EV commercial vehicles and stands to benefit greatly from the increased subsidies implied if this happens, is on the list. This is the equivalent of my daughter writing a letter stating that bedtime should be rolled back to 9:30 pm and getting all her friends to sign it. Pepsi, which ordered a bunch of Tesla Semis, is also on the list.

What’s the most conspicuous name on this list? Maersk, which is typically the largest shipping company in the world, put its name to the letter. If I’m being optimistic this is because Maersk believes in saving our environment. If I’m being pessimistic, it’s because maritime shipping accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than the airlines.

[Editor’s Note: The amount of energy in a gallon of diesel is truly incredible, and especially when payload matters, going EV for long distance over-the-road truck applications becomes very difficult. To get the range you need, you end up with a giant and expensive battery, which eats into cargo capacity and cranks up charging time. For around-town hauling, I think EV works; for long-distance hauling? I’m not seeing it working out by 2035, but I also recognize the value of ambitious deadlines. On a smaller passenger vehicle, it’s easier to replace the function of ICEs given current technology, but with big trucks it’s just a much taller ask. Personally, I’m a big fan of Siemens’s E-Highway idea. -DT]. 

It’s The Economy, Stupid

Fedreserve

Cox Automotive, the consumer/B2B automotive data company behind Kelly Blue Book, does this quarterly survey of dealers in the United States to determine where the market is going. The latest report is out and it shows that the average dealer is more concerned about the economy than it’s been during any point during the pandemic:

“High loan rates and a generally slowing economy are clearly weighing heavily on U.S. auto dealers right now,” said Jonathan Smoke, Cox Automotive Chief Economist. “Dealers are normally optimistic, so the drop in the 3-month outlook to a new low in our survey history is particularly noteworthy. As the year began, dealers were telling us about one obvious problem: inventory. Now, as 2022 comes to a close, it’s all about the economy and interest rates.”

I don’t want to spill any trade secrets here, but if you’re in the car-selling business it’s usually helpful to have cars to sell. A lack of inventory has plagued dealers for the last two years and it would be absolutely crap timing to suddenly have vehicles in stock and then get hit with high interest rates and slowing demand.

Concerns over inflation led the Federal Reserve to dramatically raise interest rates to try and slow the economy, which has sort of worked. The two biggest purchases most regular people make are housing and transportation, which means interest rates going up end up putting downward pressure on both. This pattern is clear in new housing starts.

If you can pay in cash then it might be a good time to buy a car (or house) soon as prices should stabilize or go down, especially if this ends up putting us into a recession. I’m personally not convinced that a recession next year is a definite outcome and I’d prefer if the Fed didn’t hike rates again as it’s basically the equivalent of trying to slow down the skateboard you’re on by dragging your knuckles along the ground; effective and painful.

Volkswagen Calls Supply Chain ‘Flat Out Chaos’

Wolfsburg

Dealers may be less concerned about inventory, but Volkswagen is still sweating the supply chain. The company’s famed Wolfsburg plant is only producing about 400,000 cars a year, which is less than half of its full capacity.

According to Automotive News, Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schaefer told local reporters yesterday that the supply chain was “flat out chaos.”

Speaking in a live interview with local newspapers in Wolfsburg on Tuesday, Schaefer said suppliers were canceling deliveries with one night’s notice, and chips were selling with up to an 800 percent price surcharge.

“It’s a catastrophe for the business,” Schaefer said. “These are absurd sums,” he added, speaking of chip prices on the open market.

First of all, “Flat Out Chaos” is an excellent album name. Foo Fighters, maybe? Second of all, Super Beetles need few, if any, microchips. I’m just saying.

Rather than try and restart urBeetle production, Volkswagen is reportedly considering making larger direct purchase agreements as opposed to trying to save money by buying on the open market.

Musk May Use Tesla Stock As Collateral For Twitter Loans: Report

Twittersink

Fun times in Elon Musk-land as the Tesla/Twitter/SpaceX/Pluckers Wing Bar/Solar City Boss is reportedly working with his bankers to maybe find a way to deal with the super high interest rates on his Twitter purchase. Bloomberg had the scoop first and, yet, I shall link to the Reuters story since it’s easier to read:

The margin loans are one of the options that the Morgan Stanley-led bank group and Musk’s advisers have discussed to ease the $13 billion debt Twitter took on as part of Musk’s $44 billion deal, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The discussions have so far centered around replacing the $3 billion of unsecured debt on which Twitter pays an interest rate of 11.75%, the maximum banks had agreed to finance the acquisition in April, the report said.

A margin loan allows Twitter to use Musk’s Tesla stock as collateral to borrow money and, since it’s backed by Tesla and not Twitter, the interest rate should be lower than the 18-year-old-with-part-time-job-financing-a-Hellcat-Charger-at-Carvana rate that’s currently in place.

Of course, Tesla stock ain’t what it used to be and it’s not likely that this move is going to help.

[Editor’s Note: There are few things I want to discuss less than Tesla stock. Commenters, please resist! -DT]

The Flush

I don’t have a huge question here, just a request to please read this post and support us!

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39 Responses

  1. I like seeing how the dealers are all worried about inflation now. You mean you weren’t worried about the inflation to pricing you did over the pandemic to screw normal people? I hope they get nailed with lots of inventory and low prices. I have lost all sympathy for them.

    1. Dealers: add ludicrous markups to cars

      Consumers: slow down on buying cars

      The fed: dude we’re not letting folks with 650 credit scores finance $70,000 Tellurides

      Dealers: INFLATION IS SCREWING US WAHHHHHHHHH

      1. “Premiumization” is an explicit costing strategy of manufacturers across a lot of industries – you almost can’t get a cheap car, camera, or washing machine now because they can’t be marked up enough. My hypothesis is that this has a LOT to do with “inflation.” As well as the loss of vehicles like Transit Vans, because people who want them just won’t pay more than necessary for one, so why should Ford put metal and manhours into one?

  2. I’ve always felt that ships, trains, and trucks would do better with hydrogen than battery. Building the infrastructure would be easier than it would be to get hydrogen to consumer vehicles, and you don’t have the weight penalty of batteries.

    1. Ships are a fantastic use case for hydrogen. Trucks are a good contender. I think the fact that trains require infrastructure in the form of tracks makes them an excellent choice for electric. You don’t necessarily plug it in at the end of a trip, you just supply power all along the way. You’d still want significant battery for any power outages along the way, but fueling wouldn’t be much of a problem.

      1. Well electrified train tracks have been a thing for a while…

        That said Hydrogen as a substitute for Diesel for long-range freight railroads looks more promising than expecting the US rail monopolies to invest in their tracks.

        1. Fair. I doubt they would fully convert to electrified tracks, because you are right about their investments, but I think that a combo of battery and sections of electrified track (or other electric delivery) might be palatable.
          It’ll probably all depend on what gets subsidized the most.

      2. Ships are not a use case for hydrogen and probably never will be.

        Hydrogen costs a fortune to produce, and embrittles the hardware it comes in contact with. It’s simply not suitable for use as a cost-effective fuel. I doubt it ever will be.

        Especially not in the shipping industry, where low fuel costs and long service life are two of the most critical factors to consider.

        And that doesn’t even consider that a huge portion of any stored hydrogen dissipates from any container it is stored in within a month. How does that even work in the shipping industry, when month-long sea voyages are not uncommon?

    2. Just because it’s fun. For every America’s Cup sailing race cycle, the competitors agree to a “Protocol,” which sets out the rules. They also have other things in there, like the efforts that will be made to increase participation in sailing, maybe to put some of the proceeds back into the local economy.

      For the upcoming 37th Cup, the competitors have agreed that they will each build 2 hydrogen-powered chase boats. I’m sure it’s green-washing, but the stated intent is to help advance the technology. Here’s one of the first boats, built by the people who know more about hydrofoils than anyone on the planet. It’s cool.

      https://emirates-team-new-zealand.americascup.com/en/news/549_EMIRATES-TEAM-NEW-ZEALAND-TAKE-FLIGHT-IN-HYDROGEN-POWERED-FOILING-CHASE-BOAT.html

      1. Recent test was 190 miles at 34 mph with 10% fuel remaining. Maybe 6 hours of endurance at cruising speed. Sprint speed is over 55 mph, which it will need to keep up with and around the racing boats on some days. And this is just the first prototype.

  3. Glad to see Maersk is all about the environment. I assume we are awaiting a follow up article on how the Marine segment is going to eliminate their pollution? S:/

  4. Hey I’m as big an EV skeptic as there is, but if electric semis are going to work anywhere, it’s Europe, where major population centers and ports are generally only a few hours apart.

    I don’t think anyone with a serious outlook on the world really believes that diesel trucks won’t be sold after 2035 though. If that really comes to pass, I predict a sharp uptick in the number of “construction”, “mining”, and “logging” businesses.

  5. “What’s the most conspicuous name on this list? Maersk, which is typically the largest shipping company in the world, put its name to the letter. If I’m being optimistic this is because Maersk believes in saving our environment.”

    But in fact, Maersk mostly believes in making money. Especially if they can make somebody else pay for it. Forcing switchyard operators to switch to EVs is not a bad thing. It will (possibly) reduce emissions, it’s an application where EVs make a great deal of sense, and the servicing costs and downtime should be lower. (Again, the caveat of ‘where the fuck are you getting all these gigawatts of electricity’ applies. Oh goodie, more coal burning shitshows!)
    These are obviously good things. The COST on the other hand? Yeah, no. The per-unit purchase costs something more than double.

    And it does nothing to address the fact that the overwhelming amount of truly damaging emissions come from the ships themselves. But hey! Greenwashing for the win!

    (To be clear: I’m not against electric switchyard trucks. I think this is a good thing! But I’m old, and I’ve seen this too many times. Maersk is just another company greenwashing their stuff on someone else’s pocketbooks here. And I’m tired of being the one to pay for the intransigence of these mega corporations.)

    “Concerns over inflation led the Federal Reserve to dramatically raise interest rates to try and slow the economy, which has sort of worked.”

    Where by ‘sort of worked’ we mean ‘has completely fucked everyone who is not a billionaire over.’ People who were doing okay are now struggling to eat. But hey yeah, let’s turn the screws on that and do our utmost to depress wages. That’s totally going to fix things.

    “According to Automotive News, Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schaefer told local reporters yesterday that the supply chain was “flat out chaos.””

    Putting on my cars-and-computers hat for a bit: Mr. Schaefer is, in classic Germanic fashion, truly underselling it. All the amateurs in computers are all “IT’S FIXED, WE CAN GET GPUS!”
    Don’t I fucking wish.
    Smart power stages are finally in good stock, mostly. Some of my niche parts are expected in January. But PI7C9X2G912GPBNJEX, lead time 39 weeks, and that’s best case. I’ve been told expect 1+ year there. Panasonic aluminum electrolytics are still completely fucked – Mouser has a whole 84 of the 1000uFs, with their next shipment anticipated on February 13th. OF 2024!! No chance of getting them sooner. Microchip’s RGMII’s transcievers are 107 weeks leadtime. That’s over 2 years.
    It’s beyond chaos. Guessing which components I can get is literally throwing darts. Alternate suppliers is the same, as orders are getting sold out from under people left right and center. Prices? Roll the dice.

    “[Editor’s Note: There are few things I want to discuss less than Tesla stock. Commenters, please resist! -DT]”

    Sorry, can’t.
    Elon should have brought a different kind of porcelain, because that’s where his antics have put TSLA. Down another 2% today. Down nearly 13% since Monday. Down 57.4% from January.
    He’s lucky the interest rates aren’t My First Visa level.

    I don’t have a huge question here, just a request to please read this post and support us!

    DO IT. Even if you can only afford Vinyl, it’s cool. Even if all you do is constructively comment, it’s cool. The Autopian lives and dies by you, the noble reader-slash-commenter. You think your COTD candidate isn’t helping? It is!
    Advertisers see that engagement, and that can help the team negotiate a higher rate, because “look! They really do love us!” And if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m kinda tired of the Optima banner. Help the crew get some fresh faces!

    1. I’m in auto parts, and like your experience in computer parts, I’d say “flat-out chaos” is optimistic for where we are now. When you have Ford F150 air filters on backorder for a year you know things are truly fucked. And no one has any idea when it’s going to improve. I think secretly they know it never will and this is just how things are now.

      I don’t know how we’re still dealing with the ripple effect of Covid shutdowns two-and-a-half years later.

  6. I just don’t see how the electrical infrastructure is going to be able to handle the influx of electric vehicles by 2035.
    First, there needs to be an order of magnitude more chargers available. The petroleum infrastructure has had well over a century to grow, and we are only giving a bit over a decade to get there for electric vehicles.
    Next there is the urban problem, there is no place or plan to get charging to urban drivers without places to charge. It’s not feasible to add a charger to every street parking space. But to get to the point of no new ICE vehicles by 2035 either that has to happen or some dramatic new charging system has to be developed.
    Finally, where is all this electricity going to come from ? Replacing all ICE vehicles with electric will probably at least double our electrical needs. I don’t know how that’s going to happen when our current grid is already strained.
    I’m all for electric cars, but there are some very hard problems that are being pushed by the wayside.

    1. Plugging your car in and charging overnight (which is what most people will end up doing) actually puts less stress on the grid compared to running your home A/C during a hot summer day.

      The infrastructure will be fine… as will the sources where the electricity is generated. There are all sorts of options when it comes to electricity generation.

      Fast charge locations will increase over time… but as I said, most won’t need to rely on them all the time.

      ” Replacing all ICE vehicles with electric will probably at least double our electrical needs”

      Not necessarily. ICE vehicles have their own infrastructure that consume plenty of electricity in the form of gas stations, pipeline infrastructure, fuel refining infrastructure and other stuff.

      And another thing to consider… even if 100% of all new vehicles sold starting tomorrow, it would still take 10 years or so for the number of BEVs in use to hit 50%.

      But the fact is, it’s gonna take longer than that. So there is plenty of time to upgrade infrastructure as needed.

      The situation isn’t as dire or urgent as some make it out to be.

    2. Los Angeles has installed electric vehicle chargers on some streetlights – there is already power to the curb. But in Skid Row all of the chargers on the street get smashed up and set on fire after dark, like everything else not secured behind blast doors.

  7. Even if we can’t replace all trucking with EVs by 2035 we should probably aim to replace all the heavy trucking that involves urban areas. Think not just delivery trucks but also things like loading at large ports (which are always right by large cities).

    Beyond the emissions reductions it would be a blessing to everyone living there in terms of both local smog and noise pollution.

  8. LOL at Maersk saying electric trucks when those shipping boats are much worse for emissions (though trucks do have poor emissions, boats are even more severe)

  9. Watching the Musk house of cards slowly but surely begin to fall has been amazing. He’s nothing but a run of the mill snake oil salesman who had an incomprehensible amount of resources to enter the game with. If he was born a regular Joe he’d probably be selling used cars with fudged carfaxes at that same 11.75% APR down the street. Boy, does that Dodge Chorgor Hellcut at $35,000 look appealing! I wonder why the cat logo looks like a decal…

    Twitter is in a death spiral and I think the board at Tesla would be absolutely insane to not try to oust Musk at this point. Even though we enthusiasts and folks with basic Googling ability have known he’s a fraud for years the Twitter fiasco has brought everything so front and center that everyone other than his most hardcore cultists have finally realized what a jackwagon he is…and Tesla is already on shaky ground due to the competition finally catching up and the fact that Musk et al refuse to update their cars.

    At this point I’m just glad that he can’t run for president because I think it would be the logical next step in his megalomaniacal buffoonery. I remember my friends arguing with me when I said Musk was tech Trump back in 2019 or so…but now people have finally come to realize that the god emperor of EVs and stale memes never had any clothes to begin with. You love to see it.

      1. That’s how our society is set up, unfortunately. The ultra wealthy don’t have to deal with consequences like we do. I’d be shocked if Musk had dealt with a single negative consequence in his entire life before now…but eventually his hubris was going to lead him astray. The snake oil salesman deal becomes a lot more fragile as soon as the salesman starts to believe their own bullshit. It’s never wise to get high on your own supply.

  10. I still don’t understand why we need electric trucks and electric highways for freight transport, when – at least in Europe – we have a comprehensive railway network. Container arrives by ship/plane, gets loaded onto train, arrives in the correct city, gets loaded onto electro van/truck for last-mile delivery.
    More space on the road for passenger vehicles (because lets be honest – passenger rail travel is miserable), less wear on the roads, cheaper transport (because you can load a couple dozen times as much onto a train compared to a truck), no charging issues because the trains already HAVE an electricity infrastructure, fewer traffic accidents because some overworked truck driver with a badly maintained truck barrels into a traffic jam… it’s literally win-win-win-win-win.

      1. Exactly. So instead of investing millions into electric highways, maybe expand the existing rail network to include whatever destinations are not already covered.

  11. Wait a minute. Elon Musk owns Pluckers now? Is that true? I lived directly across the street from the original Pluckers on Rio Grande when it opened back in 1995. I guess businesses change hands all the time, but that kind of sucks for a homegrown business like that to be bought by someone outside the community.

    1. I love Pluckers. I once did trivia there and had to tell the organizers that their answer to “which car company is the biggest in the world?” was wrong, and they just looked at me and said “dude, it’s just bar trivia” and I realized that they were right….

      1. Ha, dunno, it’s rarely if ever a good thing to let misinformation spread; after all, we’ve seen some pretty prime examples of where that can lead to some pretty disastrous consequences over the last few years…
        Relatedly, there was a thread on Twitter (!) just recently where somebody was still salty about an office party trivia game a decade ago where they wouldn’t accept their answer, “four ghosts,” to the question of how many ghosts there were in A Christmas Carol.

        1. When your “thing” is providing trivia questions, your #1 job should be to verify your answers.

          That somebody has every right to be salty about a trivia game where they won’t recognize that there are “four ghosts” in A Christmas Carol. Their office mates were jerks not to let that one be over-ridden.

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