National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

Looking Ahead to 2021

Originally published in FleetOwner

I was speaking to Dean Vicha, NationaLease’s president, the other day about what he sees ahead for the new year and what transportation-related issues he would like to see the new administration focus on.

His first comment was, “I wish I knew what was going to happen. We are all sitting here right now trying to figure out what budgets look like for the New Year and what the time is for the economic recovery.”

He added, “I have always had April 1 in mind as far as dealing with the short-term challenges of COVID-19. We are hopeful that the vaccine is well on its way and that we will return to some semblance of normalcy sometime in the second or third quarter of 2021.”

He went onto say that he sees great opportunities for trucking and believes the fact that truck and trailer orders have picked up over the past several months is a good sign that people making investments in their businesses and are poised and ready for the positive things coming.

Of course, electric trucks are on everybody’s mind, and Vicha believes we are going to see a push from the new administration to speed up the development and use of alternative fueled vehicles. The partnerships that are developing between existing OEMs and technology companies are also helping to speed up developments in the electric truck space.

He also reminded me of the emissions mandate coming up in 2027. “I think it is going to once again change trucking. And if transportation companies are not thinking about what the new trucking industry is going to look like, what their place in it is going to be and then working to solidify their spot, I think they are already falling behind.”

The move toward electric trucks will require investment in a nationwide charging infrastructure. This is on top of upgrades that need to be made to existing roads and bridges. Vicha hopes the new administration will address the deficiencies in the current infrastructure and use Highway Trust Fund money to make infrastructure improvements.

Vicha does not see the people issue going away in 2021. “The people issue is still an incredible challenge and getting tougher every day, especially from the technician standpoint. But it extends across the board to other areas of trucking.

“One positive thing that came out of COVID is that the nation really recognized how reliant we as a society are on trucks. So, I hope that will help us attract more people to the industry from a management as well as driver and mechanic standpoint,” he said.

One other issue Vicha would like to see addressed in the New Year is the soaring number of nuclear verdicts in truck accident cases. “Insurance has become really challenging for a lot of companies and these nuclear verdicts are getting out of hand.”