Leaders of the Rocky Mountain Institute Move team are joining industry leaders to form the U.S. Council for Freight Efficiency, a group that will work toward reinventing the U.S. trucking industry
. The new initiative was announced at the RMI2009 energy-efficiency conference in San Francisco.

The inaugural meeting of the group will be held on Tuesday, November 3 at the University of Chicago's Gleacher Center, where industry stakeholders will gather to discuss how to make the industry more profitable and sustainable.

"The freight industry, and the trucking industry in particular, has been burned by a snake-oil salesman approach to technology," said Hiroko Kawai, principal of RMI's Move team, whose name stands for mobility and vehicle efficiency. "There is a lack of trustworthy information evaluating different technologies for fleets to make investment decisions. The same challenges are also shared by producers of technologies; they cannot accelerate the market adoption of their R&D efforts, and it is hard for them to lead the market even when they offer the necessary innovations."

The vision of the Council for Freight Efficiency is to "drive the development and adoption of efficiency-enhancing, environmentally beneficial, and cost-effective technologies, services, and methodologies in the U.S. freight industry by establishing and communicating independent and performance-based standards." Its members will include truck manufacturers, component suppliers, fleets, independent owner-operators, and technology design and engineering firms, as well as state and federal policy makers.

The idea for the council came out of discussions at RMI's Transformational Trucking Charrette in April, during which three primary barriers to efficiency were identified:

• Conflicting information from multiple sources regarding new, cost-effective efficiency technologies
• Lack of translatable and customizable data (across all modes of operation)
• A variety of incorrect or incomplete information (within and between end-users)

To address these issues, the council aims to create a trusted source of information on trucking efficiency technologies. The council will do this by collecting, assessing, and circulating performance information from testing agencies and laboratories. The group will also collect marketing and user data, and provide understandable, up-to-date efficiency information to share with technology developers, council members, fleet owners, and truck drivers.

"The future of trucking efficiency is already here, it's just not well distributed," said Kawai. "We just don't have our version of 'Consumer Reports' in trucking. And fleets won't invest in new technologies and new trucks unless they know for sure that they'll get the payback."

More info: www.freightefficiency.org