Isuzu report gauges future of the transport industry

Initial research bolstered by insights on reaction to Covid-19 pandemic

Isuzu report gauges future of the transport industry
Andrew Harbison


Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) has released Future of Trucking Report: The Road Ahead, a deep-dive survey into how road transport operators view prospects and hurdles for the post-pandemic economic rebound.

The report, with legwork done by independent research firm ACA Research, is more than a year in the making, with initial investigation starting before Covid-19 hit and those findings updated this year.

IAL views the effort as "arguably the largest and most comprehensive survey of its kind ever conducted in Australia", with some 1,000 road transport decision-makers from multiple vocations, including high profile general freight and last mile delivery fleets, through to construction, government, health and other niche industry sectors surveyed.

And despite the huge economic hit this year, the result is seen as encouraging, with the findings pointing to "a resilient and resourceful sector poised to meet and overcome these challenges, and indicate positive growth in the immediate future".

Challenges revealed and proactive industry responses identified include:

  • Business Growth, Sentiment & Preparedness – Despite recent unprecedented challenges, growth opportunities do exist across the trucking sector. Findings reveal that 59 per cent of all businesses surveyed predict an increase to their freight volumes over the coming 24 months and 46 per cent of larger operators have a clear and comprehensive strategy to address evolving industry changes
  • Changing Customer Preferences – Industry-wide labour shortages are having a bearing on buyer behaviour and preference, with a continued swing towards safe, accessible trucks that help attract and retain talent. The broader transport sector has the second oldest (by age) industry workforce profile (behind agriculture, forestry and fishing) with 49 per cent of business owners (with 6-20 trucks or more), finding that the availability of skilled drivers will be a major challenge over the coming twelve months
  • EV Technology – Technological innovations are already playing a significant role in delivering greater efficiency, productivity, safety, security, and environmental outcomes within the transport sector. More specifically, 68 per cent of respondents believe electric trucks will play a major role the future of the industry
  • Purchasing & Total Cost of Ownership – Increasing pressure for fleets to modernise equipment and prompting a change in purchasing behaviour. 64 per cent of fleets believe lifetime value is more important than upfront purchase costs, while 59 per cent of fleets saw the cost of fuel as a key challenge over the coming 12 months.
  • Compliance – Varying levels of awareness, understanding, and compliance with Chain of Responsibility (CoR) requirements, with 35 per cent of small fleets completely unprepared or unaware of their requirements.

Read ACA Research findings on what concerns fleet managers, here

IAL director and chief operating officer Andrew Harbison views the Future of Trucking report as an opportunity for Isuzu Trucks to contribute to bettering the shared knowledge of the industry.

"The Future of Trucking report was undertaken with some broad objectives in mind," Harbison says.

"Importantly, it has been a chance for Isuzu Trucks to further enhance and develop our own understanding of the industry we are operating in, but to also benefit every stakeholder in Australian road transport.

"It’s been a challenging time for the nation and every industry sector has endured trials as a result of Covid-19.

"It remains the hope of IAL that some of the insights gathered as a part of this project can be utilised by industry participants in their daily operations."

IAL head of marketing and customer experience John Walker highlights that what was always going to be a significant undertaking required the gathering of new insights as the subsequent Covid-19 outbreak unfolded.

"We always wanted and designed this to be a research project that could draw assured and informed insights into the current state and future direction of the road transport industry in Australia, and that’s why we targeted a large sample size of respondents," Walker says.

"After conducing our in-depth research phase with interviews of over 1,000 industry participants in late 2019, and as we were preparing the report early this year, it quickly became apparent that while the core of our findings remained unaffected by the unfolding events, we needed to ensure that the sentiment was aligned with the current industry conditions.

"We saw that while optimism had tempered in some areas of industry, overall there was both confidence in the future and conviction that the industry had the skills and hunger to respond to the new opportunities and challenges that Covid had presented."

Of the key findings, Harbison notes that "it’s no secret the trucking sector is facing a period of change, yet despite this, we are buoyed to see that those fleets surveyed are largely confident about the future and see strong demand for their services in the years ahead.

"With or without a global pandemic, the freight task continues to grow and now is the time to build on foundations, to reaffirm industry relationships and ensure an efficient supply chain as we work collaboratively through this next phase."


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