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Driver shortage, or pay shortage?

The good news is, there's a capacity shortage in the industry, so you should be making money. The bad news is, finding drivers is going to cost you some of that money.

That was the message of Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst with ACT Research, during a recent presentation at the 2012 Recruiting and Retention Conference put on by the Truckload Carriers Association and ACS in Nashville, Tenn. After providing some facts and statistics with regards to current situation in US economy, he turns to driver shortage problem.

As Vieth mentioned in the beginning of his program, however, driver pay is going to have to take up more of that revenue that's flowing in. There's much talk of the coming driver shortage, but Vieth contended that the problem is not so much a shortage of drivers, but a shortage of pay. "Obviously you can't just double your driver's wages," Vieth said, but since deregulation, driver pay has not risen in line with other occupations.

At the time of deregulation in 1980, Vieth said,, the average driver made about four times what the average food service worker made. But according to the May 2010 occupational employment survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, drivers made about 1.9 times what the average food service worker made.

"I think all of you would agree, being a trucker is a hard job. It's one where you don't get a lot of respect, you're away from the house two or three weeks at a time ... I don't need to tell you guys this. Being a food worker may not pay as much, but it's a lot easier." The same, he said, goes for jobs such as working at a Lowe's or Home Depot. Vieth compared the turnover numbers of the truckload industry as tracked by the American Trucking Associations -- about 90% -- to turnover numbers of private fleets from the National Private Truck Council's benchmarking survey -- about 10%.

"Granted, there's a lot more milk runs where guys are going home every night, but I think there's also pay and respect, and the for-hire industry has to figure out how to emulate the private trucking world," Vieth said.

"There has to be a premium that the U.S. economy has to pay to make trucking an attractive job," Vieth said. "Making sure truckers are respected and treated as valued employees and part of the team, those are certainly important as far as retention goes -- but as far as getting people in the door to say I want to be a trucker, I think wages have to rise fairly substantially."



The Show or the Dealership?

Sergey Troyka is an owner-operator with Roadfast and a trucking-enthusiast. His passion is engine longevity. His experience might be of interest to DorogaRoad readers...


The traditional annual 39th Toronto International Auto show 2012 took place in the middle of February. It presented over a thousand cars made by 125 manufacturers around the world.

The Show or the Dealership?

The auto show in Toronto shouldn't be compared to European or American shows in Frankfurt, Geneva, Paris or Detroit, simply because Toronto is not recognized as one of the automobile capitals in the world. Toronto shows are rather a large dealership displaying mainly the models sold by local dealers. The name of the exhibition organizer is self-explanatory – autotrader.ca.

The show in Toronto usually take places right after Detroit Auto Show in January and, as a rule, there are no big world premieres. It was the case this year too. To begin with, consequences of the world recession were much less evident, and there were much more exhibits at this year's show. All dealerships selling cars in Canada were present, as well as manufactures of some exotic cars which are not yet available in Canada.

It is becoming more obvious that manufacturers direct all their efforts to creating high economy vehicles. For example, one of the latest trends from American auto manufacturers is a new concept of fuel engines with lower cylinder volume, turbo, filled with electronics, and as a result, quite a low appetite for fuel. The most common litre capacity range among American middle class cars is 1400-2000 cubic centimeters, which was impossible to imagine a few years ago. Of course, hybrid and electric cars enjoy the spotlight at the exhibition. Gradually, a typical North American will have to say good-bye to the traditional huge and comfortable American cars with 6-8-cylinder engines and squeeze into the Europeans' shoes who have been driving smaller cars for years now, and try to save every gram of the precious (literally) liquid – the car fuel.


KIA – a South Korean, once a mediocre auto manufacturer, has made a huge leap forward, just like their partner HYUNDAI. Due to a successful policy implemented by the company management who contracted the best European designers and engineers, the latest models by HYUINDAI-KIA took a beautiful and modern shape, and took a big step up in terms of quality. Only 5-6 years ago these cars were considered outsiders on the auto market, were of a low quality and were selling just due to the lower prices. Today everything changed. The cars became reliable, with a modern design, and with the best in Canada bumper to bumper guarantee.

A completely new KIA OPTIMA with a 2.4 L 200 horsepower engine (it won the Canadian Best New Family Car 2012 award) and a sport KIA FORTE model are in very high demand across Canada, and they take the leading positions in the world auto industry due to their style and design. The company also made a new range of efficient engine DPI and the entire line of popular models: SUV – KIA RONDO released in 2010, KIA SOUL and new and pretty KIA SPORTAGE and KIA SORENTO.

Small class passenger cars: a completely new RIO SEDAN and RIO5, which has a common platform with a new HYUNDAI ACCENT. Middle class: a new KIA OPTIMA and a sporty KIA FORTE KOUP, as well as an entirely new hybrid car KIA OPTIMA HYBRID at a relatively low price of 30-32 thousand dollars for this class. The company presented an interesting design for a concept-van KIA with a huge right door revealing half of the roof and half of the interior, with rotating driver and passenger seats, an interesting and functional interior design as well as a sliding table, parquet floors and original interior lighting.

VOLKSWAGEN – a traditionally interesting stand by the German automaker who in 2011 took the 2nd place in the world for the number of cars manufactured. A restyled VW TIGUAN was presented here, as well as a new PASSAT CC-2013 – starting this year, it will be almost entirely assembled in the U.S. at the new facility in the state of Tennessee. One could also enjoy the beauty of a new VW BEETLE model, which has been selling for several months in Canada. The car became more spacious and respectable, and somewhat similar in design to the legendary PORSCHE. A concept van VW BULLY reminds of the minibus of the 50-70-ies of the last century, with a huge VW symbol on the hood.

Unfortunately the 7th generation Golf didn't arrive from Detroit to Toronto for some reason. VW-TOUAREG TDI Clean Diesel was recognized by auto journalists as the best SUV in 2012. It is undoubtedly a good and high quality car (but the price of 60 thousand dollars is too high). It has been manufactured for over five years, and, as we know, a car of the year should be an absolutely new model.

AUDI: The stand didn't demonstrate any big premieres, but they presented a slightly changed TT-RS with a 2.5 litre new 5-cylinder engine, 360 horsepower. The 7th model line grew with a new S-7 with a 4 litre 420 horsepower turbo engine. The rest of the models didn't experience changes compared to the last year. Interestingly, neither VW, nor its daughter company Audi, presented hybrid versions of their models at the Toronto auto show.

NISSAN-INFINITY: a major premiere of the brand became an entirely electrical Nissan Leaf, which has been selling in Canada since 2012 at a price of approximately 40 thousand dollars. In the near future it will be possible to charge it from a standard socket. For now, it comes with a charging station for 240V, costing 3000 dollars, which allows to charge a car overnight, and it will be sufficient for 160 km. Infinity brought a last year line of models, except for a new hybrid M35H, with a total capacity of fuel and electric engines of 360 horsepower (costing about 67 thousand dollars).

CHRYSLER-FIAT: a new Jeep Grand Cherokee, their "charged" version of SRT8 made a splash. Under the hood it has a 6.4 litre engine V8 Hemi, 475 horsepower, and over 600 Nm of torque. For the first time, a model from the Street Racing Technologies workshop, equipped with automatic transmission, got steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, adaptive suspension, shock absorbers, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, Brembo brakes and a new hydraulic power steering. This kind of package allows Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 to speed up to 100 km/h in about 4 seconds. This car will become a real competitor to BMW X-5M, Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Mercedes G63 AMG, where it looks quite similar to them but the price is lower by 30-40%.

A concept car Dodge Dart is quite interesting, a new sedan for young people based on Alfa Romeo, which will replace the current Dodge Caliber (Neon). This product is a purely Italian initiative performed by Chrysler's owner Fiat. It is worth mentioning that its engine capacity is 1.4 litres! This model will be manufactured at Chrysler's facilities in Michigan and Illinois.

FIAT 500 – a car, which FIAT company placed a huge bet on in terms of winning the North American market. However, the compact car did not meet the expectation, probably due to its size (except for the "charged" FIAT 500 ABARTH), as it is less spacious and less comfortable that its direct competitor MINI COOPER. Although FIAT500 is lower in price than the MINI. Last year 2500 FIATs 500 and over 20,000 MINI COOPERs were sold in North America. It seems that because MINI is BMW's daughter company, the car turned out a bigger success (this model has been on the market for seven years). But who knows, what is awaiting us – all depends on fuel cost, and when the price reaches $2-3 per litre, it is likely that car size and comfort will not be as important.

HONDA traditionally showed its concept cars, which are closer to production than most manufacturers' stretch of imagination. So the car Candy Apple Red Accord Coupe is quite in line with this trend. It will be the 9th generation of Accord in the Honda line. Customers will be able to choose a coupe with one of three engines. Basis engine will be a 4-cylinder Honda with 2.4 litre capacity, direct injection, and environmentally friendly customers may choose a set of two hybrid engines from a new intellectual systems collection titled Earth Dreams. Honda's luxury brand in the U.S. Acura displayed three novelties; the major one was the company's future supercar Acura NSX. The public was also presented with a new compact sedan ILX and the 2nd generation of the RDX crossover. SUBARU brought a completely new, from inside and outside, model of Impreza with a 2-litre engine and a traditional 4-wheel drive. A totally new passenger crossover XV CONCEPT was also here. It will take place between FORESTER and OUTBACK, and is based on IMPREZA, has high clearance and a 2-litre engine. The sports model IMPREZA STI was replaced by an entirely new rear-wheel driver coupe SUBARU BRZ with a 2-litre engine, 200 horsepower, without turbo.

The lower level housed American auto giants FORD, GM, Europe's BMW, VOLVO, JAGUAR, Japan's TOYOTA, MAZDA, MITSUBISHI and Korea's rising star HYUNDAI.

FORD's stand opened with a presentation of a new FORD ESCAPE 2013, which coming to the dealerships later this year. The model that hasn't changed over the past 11 years has got an entirely new frame (very similar to the new FORD FOCUS) and a line of engines from the same model. The major one will be a 2,5-litre ECOBUST, 200 horsepower. A hybrid option of the same model was presented as well. According to the new tradition from the big three companies of America's auto industry all new models will a have a common platform, same engines and will only differ in names, depending on a continent.

The auto show continues with a new FORD FUSION, which underwent a serious restyling and received ECOBUST engines. A defining feature of these engines is a large volume of cylinders, turbo, direct fuel injection, and the resulting efficiency. The entire new Ford line is manufactured in a hybrid version, too.

A video demonstrated on four large screens grabbed everyone's attention. It showed an exciting performance by the famous pilot Ken Block on a 600 h.p. FORD FIESTA RS2000, and I would recommend everyone to watch it on YouTube. It is an amazing sight! As a former pilot, I admire this virtuoso driver's mastery and the absolute precision in driving.

GENERAL MOTORS large stand displayed a new CHEVROLET MALIBU with a completely new design, the smallest CADILLAC ATS SEDAN with a range of engines from a 4-cylinder 2-litre, turbo to a 6-cylnder 3.5 litre.

One could also see a new mini-crossover BUICK ENCORE based on CHEVROLET SONIC platform, with a 1.4 litre engine. Of course, the big surprise of the show was an exhibition of super exotic cars in a separate hall, where along with the traditional FERRARI, LAMBORGHINI, MASERATI, ROLLS-ROYS were presented rare and practically unknown to Canadians super electro cars FISKER KARMA and TESLA. The icing on the cake was a 16-cylineer 1000 h.p. BUGATTI VEYRON shown in Canada for the first time, an Italian supercar PAGANI ZONDA, the only car in North America made completely out of carbon plastic, worth 2 million dollars, and already sold to a Canadian car collector.

In this brief article I haven't mentioned the giants like BMW, MERCEDES, VOLVO, JAGUAR, TOYOTA/LEXUS/SCION, MITSUBISHI but I will write about them next time.

Alexander Bar