Isuzu has revealed the findings of research it commissioned ACA Research to carry out on the Australian road transport industry with the timely report uncovering some critical challenges besetting Australian operators, particularly given the recent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Isuzu says its ‘Future of Trucking: The Road to Recovery’ report surveyed more than 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.

The company says  that encouragingly, the findings point to a resilient and resourceful sector poised to meet and overcome the many challenges, and indicate positive growth in the immediate future.

The ACA Research compiled report is arguably the largest and most comprehensive survey of its kind ever conducted in Australia says Isuzu.

The report’s key insights centre around established sector challenges facing operators and business owners, along with some revealing sentiment off the back of a rapidly evolving COVID-19 environment.

Challenges unearthed in the report, and the proactive industry response include some key takeaways.

The report reveals that 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 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.

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.

The Isuzu report also revealed that 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.

In terms of  purchasing intentions and fleet modernisation, the report revealed Increasing pressure for fleets to modernise equipment, prompting a change in purchasing behaviour.

The report says that 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.

When it came to compliance the report  reveals 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.

IAL director and COO, Andrew Harbison, said the ‘Future of Trucking’ report was 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. 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,” Harbison said.

“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, commented on the intent and timing of the report, noting that while it was always going to be a significant undertaking, the subsequent COVID-19 outbreak required a review of the initial insights gathered.

“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.

“After conducing our in-depth research phase with interviews of over 1000 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,” Mr Walker said.

Of the key findings, Andrew Harbison said that it was 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.”

For further information about the report, including a full report download, visit the Future of Trucking: Road to Recovery landing page.