Self-driving trucks will cut logistics costs in half and boost GDP

The digitization and automation of processes and delivery vehicles will reduce logistics costs for standardized transport by 47% by 2030, according to a new report from PwC’s Strategy and consultancy.

The Global Truck Study 2018 has found that around 80% of these savings will be attributable to the reduction of personnel in the transport and logistics industry. In addition, there will be enormous increases in efficiency: autonomous lorries, for example, will be able to travel 78% of the time from 2030 onwards, as opposed to 29% of the time since 2030. This will be because there will be no breaks for drivers and idling time will be reduced through the use of algorithms.

The future model will require more engine types, including electric, hybrid, and those powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), liquid natural gas (LNG), or fuel cells. These will coexist with the internal combustion engine that accounts for 97 percent of the market today. With these new engine types, fuel costs for trucking companies will come down significantly.

After fuel, the next biggest cost center is the driver. A fully automated truck obviously does not need a driver, which results in significant savings. Such a truck also eliminates the need for a cab, which will reduce the cost of a truck by about a third, given that the cab is one of the most expensive parts of a truck. The remaining vehicle will be a much more commoditized affair, with the only meaningful differentiating factor being the type of powertrain.

If all countries were to improve their logistics performance and reduce supply chain barriers to just half the level observed in the best-performing country in their respective regions, global GDP could increase by 2.6%.

If countries improve their border management and transport-related infrastructure services to attain 50% of the global best practice level (as observed in Singapore), global GDP would jump by 4.7% – six times more than what could result from removing all import tariffs.

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