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Trucking in the Year 2021: What Is to Come?

A little over a year ago, we wrote an article predicting how 2020 would go for the trucking industry. In the vaguest and broadest of terms, we were correct. Freight rates were on average higher than in 2019 (albeit slumped in the spring), and truck production did stall (though not because of a surplus of used vehicles). Drones and self-driving trucks did not make much progress towards becoming reality, and trucking did not go away.

With all of this in mind, we are laying out our predictions for 2021.

Key Statistics Should Level or Drop

In the latter half of 2020, many statistics used to measure the vitality of the trucking industry have had tremendous increases from month-to-month. Among these include:

  • Freight rates: dry van, flatbed and reefer.
  • New Class 8 truck sales.
  • Trailer sales.
  • Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI)

The trucking industry is burning right now, but growth cannot last forever. Unless reefer hauling hits $5 per mile in this coming December, the numbers are going to stop growing eventually, and may even shrink.

This is not to say the statistics will not stay high, just that continuous growth at the current rate is unsustainable.

More Trucking Hires

The coronavirus pandemic eventually came to claim jobs from the trucking industry, and while the industry has made strides in getting back to pre-pandemic levels, it still has a ways to go. With this in mind, the employment numbers still have much more room to grow than the OTVI or trailer sales.

Vaccine Hauling Will Be Prevalent

President Joe Biden is taking a different approach from coronavirus vaccine distribution than Trump did. Rather than planning for second dosages to boost immunity, the Biden administration wants to infect as many people as possible, going for the numbers game.

As such, truckers will not find themselves out of jobs anytime soon as the U.S. government has 100 million vaccines it will need hauled, hopefully within the first 100 days of the Biden presidency.

Even trucking companies with less sophisticated technology may find themselves in on the action. The Moderna vaccine, while only 94% effective when compared to the Pfizer vaccine’s 95%, has much a much higher tolerance for lower temperatures. Pfizer vaccines require temperatures of -70C (-94F), colder than any place naturally occurring on Earth. Moderna vaccines require only -20C (-4F), comparable to a good freezer unit. As such, it is much more practical for distribution.

Tesla Semi Will Be Delayed Again

The prediction with the least amount of evidence, but instead a good hunch. Tesla has delayed the release of the Tesla Semi numerous times, and the last we have heard any news of it was in September, where they said upgrading its battery to travel 50% further will take some time.

It seems every year, the release of the Tesla Semi gets delayed another 11 months. It is unclear how far back it will get delayed in 2021, but it probably will not come until 2022, in ideal conditions.


All of this is conjecture: nobody could have expected rumors about a virus in China turning into a society-changing event we would experience in the next year. Hopefully 2021 is more like the second half of the previous year, and not so much like the first half.

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