Wednesday, 17 November 2021 09:23

Outbound Sector Faces Capacity Crisis as Production Rebounds, Says Nissan

Written by Marcus Williams, Automotive Logistics
Nissan’s Steve Jernigan Nissan speaks at the Finished Vehicle Logistics event. Nissan’s Steve Jernigan Nissan speaks at the Finished Vehicle Logistics event.


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There are positive, albeit early signs, that vehicle production is recovering in North America. 

This year saw a loss in light vehicle production of 2.5 million vehicles because of widespread shutdowns caused by semiconductor and parts shortages. While 2022 will be constrained, carmakers are reporting plants will be running without shutdown over the coming months, even if they are under capacity for the time being.


Unfortunately, there is unlikely to be sufficient capacity in the outbound sector to cope with even this gradual increase, and deliveries at a time of record low inventory will continue to be disrupted. Without some radical and collaborative steps being taken to improve visibility, recruit truck drivers or find alternative delivery methods, carmakers risk losing sales in the long term.  


In the opening session of November’s Finished Vehicle Logistics North America conference, which made a welcome return to Newport Beach in California, Steve Jernigan, director of finished vehicle logistics at Nissan North America, said the current supply problems affecting the inbound supply of parts were likely to shift to the outbound sector---a sector suffering from a dramatic shortage of drivers.  


“I’ve heard some statistics from the haulaway carriers that they have lost 25% to 30% of their drivers in some locations and it was already a constrained industry,” said Jernigan. “COVID has pushed that forward even more.”  


In its latest "Top Industry Issues" report, the American Transportation Research Institute (Atri) reported there is now a record shortfall of 80,000 professional drivers across the haulage sector. That shortage is being felt strongly in the finished vehicle sector as skilled but homesick long-distance drivers leave for alternative short-haul freight jobs for companies such as Amazon or leave the haulage industry completely. 
In the Atri study, the driver shortage topped the list of industry concerns for the fifth year in a row. The shortage of drivers received more than four times as many first-place votes as the No. 2 issue of driver retention.  


“We are going to struggle,” admitted Jernigan. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about...

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