Meat alternatives, urban ag a concern for trucking; autonomous vehicles spell fewer organ donations and parking revenue

by Brian Bahouth

Jim O’Connell of electric vehicle maker Adomani shows Nevada state Senator Chris Brooks an electric cab-over-engine truck as part of an electric vehicle transportation forum held in Reno on February 1, 2019 - image - Nevada Capital News

Carson City – The Assembly Committee on Growth and Infrastructure heard an overview of the Nevada Trucking Association from the group’s CEO Paul Enos a few weeks ago, and Mr. Enos thoughtfully illuminated the countless and surprising number of ways trucking impacts our quality of life and economy in Nevada and across the world.  Of interest here is when Enos looked to the future of vehicular transportation, both passenger and freight, with an evocative insider’s assessment. 

Hear a portion of Paul Enos’ presentation to the  Assembly Committee on Growth and Infrastructure on Feb. 14, 2019 …

Enos said truck automation was akin to the very common automation used on commercial aircraft, so autonomous trucks would not mean the end of truck drivers.  Enos said bringing automation technology to trucking and all licensed vehicles would save lives.

“The beautiful thing about this technology is that we could save the same amount of people that die on the road every year with the ubiquitous roll-out of automated technology than people who die of breast cancer,” Enos said.

According to Breast Cancer.org, some 41,760 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2019 from breast cancer, and saving that many lives is certainly good news, but of the roughly 35,000 vehicle fatalities in the US every year, a good percentage of those are organ donors, and according to the book, Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman, roughly 20 percent of organ transplants come from fatal traffic accidents.

Tens of thousands of people die waiting for organs every year, so safer roadways could make the situation even more dire.

“We’re going to have fewer people donating organs,” Enos said regarding safer autonomous vehicles.  “Maybe people not buying vehicles anymore. That’s an issue too potentially with automated vehicles, a fleet of them.  You won’t have to buy a car any more. You already see that in some cases, they’re not parking in a garage and not even having a garage.  There are a lot of new homes being built today with only one-car garage because of the new mobility people are moving forward with.”

Trucking and food

“We move a tremendous amount of trucks to feed ourselves,” Enos said.  “They say 20 to 25 percent of truck traffic is agriculture.  It’s how we eat.”

As local agriculture becomes more prevalent, Mr. Enos points out that fewer truck miles will be needed.

“We’re now seeing pods being developed in urban areas where your fruit, your vegetables are going to be within 50 miles of where you ultimately eat them, so we’re not going to be sending central valley bell peppers to New York City any more.  It may be being grown in Brooklyn, and that is something that is going to change our industry.”

The impact of meat substitutes

Plant-based meat substitutes have been gaining market share on an increasing curve for nearly a decade.  According to Mordor Intelligence, between now and 2023 the global meat substitute market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of nearly 6 percent a year, and the number and quality of meat alternative products are increasing rapidly as well.

Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and now Tyson Foods have invested in lab-grown meat.  Tyson recently invested in Memphis Meats, which will be available in stores sometime in 2019.

“We may not have trucks hauling pigs all the way across the country or cows all the way across the country any more because of things like lab created meat, ethical meat, so these are things that have a potential to disrupt our industry that we’re looking at.”

Paul Enos also said that with automated vehicles, people would pay less in parking fees and fines, which could impact the budgets of municipalities in Nevada.  Fewer DUI convictions due to autonomous vehicles could impact the funding for courts, Enos warned.

Mr. Enos proudly mentioned the fact that the first autonomous 18 wheel truck was plated in Nevada.