First, what is a disruptor in an industry? Well, it is simply to create a product, service or process that pushes the existing market leaders of a particular industry and eventually replaces them at the top of a given industry. Disruptors are often seen as outsiders and even idealists rather than people who may have been in that particular industry for a long time. Often disruption comes the way of technological advances but not always -- sometimes a change to the typical business plan is all it takes to disrupt an entire industry.
Disruption is good for the economy and the industry that it affects. If your industry experiences disruption, everyone will be affected. It is far better to embrace the advances than fight them.
The most dangerous phrases in business are “that’s the way we’ve always done it” and
“if it’s not broken don’t fix it.” These are such old-school views. Welcome the disruption or even better, be the disruptor. Here are some companies that are working to disrupt the world of transportation.
The Tesla Semi is an all-electric battery powered Class 8 transport truck. With claims of a 500-800km range and a 25 sec acceleration to 100km/hr, this truck will be able to compete with its diesel-consuming counterparts.
The Tesla Semi will also come with Tesla Autopilot, which is the semi-autonomous driving feature from the company. This will help prevent driver fatigue as well as optimize driving, including supporting automatic platooning. This truck will need much less maintenance and Tesla is offering a million-mile guarantee to ensure value. It also runs quieter and has zero CO2 emissions. This truck will definitely shake up a few industries when it is produced.
Tesla unveiled the Tesla-Semi at the end of 2017. Originally Tesla had planned to start production in 2019 but the president of Automotive noted they will not begin until 2020. The Tesla Semi prototypes have been spotted regularly in California and Nevada going through road testing.
In April 2019, Nikola unveiled the Nikola Two, a hydrogen fuel cell electric Class 8 transport truck. The Nikola Two boasts an 800-1200km range, double the acceleration of a stock diesel tractor and a 15-20 minute refill time. These trucks also feature up to 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 ft-lbs of torque. Due to using hydrogen for power, these trucks produce zero carbon emissions.
Nikola also addressed the lack of infrastructure for hydrogen refueling at the unveiling and suggests it will be heavily investing to place up to 700 stations by 2028. There are currently more than 13,000 Nikola trucks on order. Nikola also announced a battery-electric vehicle option for urban, short-haul trucking, which would compete directly with the Tesla Semi.
Described as the “Uber of Trucking,” Amazon quietly launched a beta test last year for its online service that matches truck drivers with shippers. The service also helps Amazon better maintain its existing network of carriers and promotes the cargo-matching process. The online tool allows shippers to get instant quotes on the loads they are looking to ship. Currently, this service is only available for shipments between five states: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Connecticut.
Currently hundreds of carriers are already using the service, and Amazon only allows approved trucking partners to participate in the program. Amazon is rating out, on average, 20-30 per cent below current market rates. This pricing is definitely going to raise a few brows and could cause more issues than good in an industry that has little to no regulation around pricing and driver pay.
Definitely larger players in this market such as CH Robinson and XPO Logistics are watching this development.
A Dutch company named Port-Liner is building two all electric barges, that are set to launch this autumn. The inaugural sailing will be in the Wihelmina Canal in the Netherlands.
Each ship is capable of carrying 280 containers and is meant to replace over-the-road transport in the Netherlands to start. The company has developed battery-pack technology that houses the batteries in a container so this would help with retrofitting already operational ships.
The goal is for the battery packs to be charged by Eneco, a sustainable power company, who sources solar power and other renewable energy sources.
These are just a few of the possible disruptors in the transportation industry, and more companies are working to be more and more innovative every day. The important thing to keep in mind is to adapt with these companies rather than fighting the inevitable. What do you think the next big disruptor will be?