Are Hydrogen Auto Transport Trucks the Future?
The future is a murky thing, especially when it comes to auto transport services. There’s not a lot of information about innovation, especially for car transport carriers. But innovation for carriers often means better services for customers. And if hydrogen auto transport trucks are the future, the way that Nikola Motor Company envisions they are, things might change for the better.
As it stands, auto transportation trucks have horrendous fuel efficiency. Many drivers struggle to maintain 10-15 miles per gallon, and that’s typically under ideal highway driving conditions. Trips into cities can plunge a carrier’s fuel economy to anywhere from 6-9 miles per gallon, and drivers spend hundreds of dollars at a time at the pumps.
And there lies most of your auto shipping costs, mind you. Fuel is expensive, but if hydrogen auto transport trucks become the norm, this could change drastically.
Hydrogen auto transport trucks – potential specs
As it stands, Nikola Motor Company (NMC) has already put out a prototype, Nikola One. Now, to be fair, this was back in December, and we actually wrote a bit about hydrogen as the future of auto transportation services back in January. Either way, hydrogen is booming, and Nikola One is the most promising innovation yet.
With 1,000 hp, a range of more than 1,200 miles and zero tailpipe emissions aside from water, Nikola One seems to be where it’s at. Not only can a carrier traverse over a third of the country on one fuel up, but it’s free. NMC is looking at expanding their hydrogen refueling capabilities nationwide, and fuel prices will be built into the carrier’s lease. This essentially means zero fuel costs.
Not only that, but hydrogen auto transport trucks also project to be much more driver-friendly. As it stands, many newer trucks have amenities that past truckers could only dream of. Cabs nowadays – at least, modern ones – are almost mini apartments in what they offer. But NMC’s hydrogen truck cab is projecting to be 30% larger.
NMC’s Nikola One is projected to have a modern digital dashboard, too. Layouts of various switches and gauges are customizable, giving a driver the ability to essentially “build” his dashboard himself. This could potentially lead to safer trucks on the road, especially among newer drivers.
Drivers will also have profiles. With biometric sensors build into the handles of the doors, an NMC cab can automatically adjust climate controls, seat position, and more, all to conform with the driver’s comforts.
How this can affect your auto transport services
All of these things are awesome for the drivers – creature comforts, increased technology, no fuel costs. It sounds awesome. But how might this impact customers?
The answers are multi-faceted, wide-ranging, and, right now, purely speculative. We envision lower auto shipping prices, though not at first. This kind of technology is new, untested, and there’s going to be a lot of kinks that NMC is going to need to work out. But (and that’s a big but), if they do, and these trucks hit the road by 2020 as projected, between 2020 and 2030 we could see a drastic rise in the number of hydrogen auto transport trucks on the road.
If this proliferation is realized, it can mean lower prices for everyone, which is probably the best thing.
But, here’s the thing – it may not come to the auto transportation industry at all. Right now, NMC is envisioning carriers utilizing their own software to find loads. And this is certainly possible, but can it replace Central Dispatch? Brokers would still be necessary, so that won’t be impacted much at all, but on the periphery, the industry might see things tighten up, as it were.
And that’s speculative right now. If it were to come to fruition, however, it could mean lower wait times for car transportation services. And with that interconnection comes the ability to program the route into the vehicle’s computer – essentially, “setting a course” as they would in Star Trek. This way, a carrier could program the route and then the truck could automatically adjust to various factors along the route to maximize fuel efficiency or save brakes on downhill grades or even to avoid high-congestion areas.
It’s a lot to take in. Right now, this technology is a few years off, but it’s still fascinating to see it progress. A few years back we covered a lot about hydrogen and its potential role in auto transportation, and it’s good to see that it hasn’t been abandoned yet.