Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Newsletter presented by XPO. In this issue, real vs fake Christmas trees; East Coast spot rates sink; Tesla Semi event and more.
East coast ocean volumes sink
Like letting the water out of a tub — Just as Americans were sitting down to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, one of last year’s main course conversations, about a massive backlog of ships at SoCal ports, seems all but a distant memory. That’s because for the first time in a long time we hit zero vessels in port last week.
“The Shanghai to New York benchmark dropped -9%, much more than the mellow -1% decline to Los Angeles. Potentially this is an indication that we are heading to a normalization of the spread between the east and west coast as the east coast rates have held slightly more firm than the west coast rates during the decline of the past 6 months.” – Lars Jensen, CEO at Vespucci Maritime
Uh, but it all went East, right? — Some of it did, but as we’ve been contending since early summer, East Coast volumes were always bound to be next. According to Descartes, New York/New Jersey imports fell 26,792 TEUs (6.3%) in October vs September. As Lars Jensen said above, that distance between EC/WC rates is vanishing.
Did Black Friday / Cyber Monday bring retail back? — Jassy may be right, I moved the same OLED TV in and out of my cart eight times on Thanksgiving before deciding to punt. However, Cyber Monday snagged $11.3 billion in sales according to numbers from Adobe Analytics. TechCrunch reports that sales over the past 5 days, “will reach $35.27 billion in sales online, up 4% over last year and accounting for 16.7% of all sales in the months of November and December.”
That wasn’t all just inflation either, Adobe says transaction volume was up to. With deep discounts, what kind of margins retailers pulled may be a different story.
Is trucking in the clear? — Nah…but there is some positive news. Diesel had its biggest weekly drop since August. Take a look at that SONAR chart above, what you’re seeing is a record spread between the wholesale and retail price of diesel fuel has never been higher at $1.92/gallon.
Why’s that important? Carriers who are getting crushed by rates can still make bank on the FSC. As one trucking company owner pointed out, “I…love the FSC ( 30s-42% avg this year, changes weekly ) mostly bc doing local cartage and with multi LTL stops/drops in a 100-mile radius benefits very nicely. Offsets little slowdown in recent months as well, so up to me can stays :)”
Real tree vs fake: which is more sustainable?
Twigs vs pipecleaners – Fake tree, fake life is my motto. I even got a 12’ looker for my home this year. But my buddy over at Covenant, Matt McLelland (who is team fake tree) has been trying to get to the bottom of which is more sustainable. Let’s take a look.
Team Real – First off, we support nearly 15,000 Christmas Tree farms according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Additionally, cutting down farmed trees helps the environment, it doesn’t hurt it as new trees are planted. Bill Ulfelder, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in New York told The Washington Post, “Trees are a renewable resource. When they’re being cut, they’re being harvested in ways that they’re being replanted, so it’s a great renewable resource that provides lots of environmental, conservation and nature benefits.”
Not to mention, they smell great, look better, and going to get one each year is what family tradition is made from.
Team Fake – You can support sagging steamship liner volumes as 80% of fake trees come from China. While your tree may not shed needles, you can ring in the holidays with a whole host of plastics including PVC. Real tree owners don’t get to bask in the glow of fire retardant chemicals either.
In a town full of rubber plans – Aesthetically speaking there is no contest, but the question was on sustainability. Is it possible for a fake plastic tree to be more sustainable than a real one? Studies claim that it would take anywhere from 5 to 20 years for a fake tree to have a more positive benefit than a glorious fresh cut conifer.
WTT Annual Christmas Tree – Just like last year, we’ve put up another Christmas tree on the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? set (real, obvs) and we need your help decorating it. Send us your company ornaments to hang from our branches and they’ll air on every episode of WTT this season. Plus, A Very WHAT THE TRUCK Christmas?!? is December 16th. My ask is for any truckers or offices who want to wish the freight community a happy holidays send me a video with your message. Keep ’em under 30 seconds or so. You can email me here for our address.
Tesla Semi event is tonight
5PM PT / 8PM PT — Tesla may be a few years behind schedule on releasing the Semi but it appears the wait is over. If claims from Musk hold true, and the truck can go 500 miles fully loaded on a single charge, this is a game changer. Current BETs (battery electric trucks) have half the range. While 500 miles is revolutionary, it still isn’t enough to attack the over the road market except on the most dedicated lanes. But, it doesn’t have to be right now. Alignment with regional, ports, and beverage companies should be a priority as infrastructure scales. You can stream the event tonight right here.
The Elonphant in the room — Where would a fleet charge a Semi and how much will it cost them to build their own chargers? Well, one of those answers just got closer to an answer for port truckers. They’re already under pressure in California to hit zero emissions at the ports by 2030. Yesterday, The Port of Long Beach announced they’ve installed their first two free public chargers. A start, now we just need several hundred more.
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Logistics back in the day
NASA’s SWOT mission — On Friday’s episode of WHAT THE TRUCK?!? NASA lands on the show to talk about their mission to conduct the first global survey of Earth’s surface water. What are the logistics behind the mission and how will it benefit us down here on Earth?
Plus, Redwood benefits Danny Did Foundation with new shirt; Convoy shares how carriers are performing on their sustainability report; Netradyne argues that your fleet safety program is backwards.
With special guests Kari Lewis, Payload System Engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; James Jackson, Wayne Astrauskas and Mike Finn at Redwood Logistics; Kiana van Waes, Corporate Sustainability Analyst at Convoy; Barrett Young, SVP Marketing, Netradyne.
Catch new shows live at noon ET Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on FreightWavesTV, FreightWaves LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or on demand by looking up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player.
Now on demand
NYSE Christmas tree delivery Q&A with Hyliion’s Healy
Hyliion brings Christmas to NYC, Tesla Semi goes 500, unrest in iPhone City
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