About 94% of 500 transportation executives said that consumer demand for more sustainable products makes reducing emissions a top priority for 2024, according to a study unveiled by Breakthrough, a transportation management technology provider.

The 2023 State of Transportation study surveyed 500 U.S. transportation leaders, including carriers and shippers, at enterprises across the United States about their goals, priorities and predictions for the next 12 months. Despite industry headwinds, the calls for sustainability across the value chain have never been more urgent and clear, the report said. 

As such, electric and alternative energy vehicles are in-demand green solutions. The vast majority of shippers (99%) agree they would take advantage of these options if carriers in their networks offered them. On the carrier side, nearly all respondents (97%) see value in adding EVs to their fleets — and 59% plan to do so by the end of 2023.

“Inflation, volatile fuel prices and capacity fluxes will continue to weigh heavily on the transportation industry, making it more important for organizations to prioritize efficiency measures,” said Matt Muenster, chief economist at Breakthrough. “Despite these economic hurdles, the desire for sustainable practices remains. With an abundance of intermodal capacity and a surge of investment in alternative energy technology and vehicles, shippers and carriers have an opportunity to shift toward more eco-conscious operations.”

Relationships are paramount to reducing emissions and creating efficiencies, according to the survey. In fact, 70% of transportation leaders say forging mutually beneficial partnerships is an important focus area in the next 12 months. As shippers and carriers nurture and grow partnerships, cost, capacity, service and carbon will be top of mind. But many shippers lack information about available regional carriers.

“We’re seeing transportation leaders prioritize strengthening their current partnerships and exploring new relationships to fill in gaps, especially to support their sustainability ambitions,” said Jenny Vander Zanden, chief operating officer at Breakthrough. “Strong carrier partnerships are vital to navigating market volatility. But organizations may struggle to identify the right partners to fulfill their specific needs and meet their standards due to competing priorities and demands. This report dives deeper into how organizations can best prepare for the next year with the right tools and partnerships.”

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of transportation leaders expect linehaul rates to remain higher than average as an outcome of increased labor and equipment costs, despite Breakthrough’s long-term expectations and internal data indicating truckload linehaul rates will approach their floor toward the end of this year. This contrast, volatile diesel fuel prices, limited freight capacity and driver shortages are significant concerns for shippers and carriers moving forward — further illustrating the need for solid partnerships to navigate anticipated challenges, the report found.

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