What Ever Happened to the U.S. People's Convoy?

It’s been a while since we’ve covered the trucking protests and you might be wondering what happened with the U.S. People’s Convoy that emerged from the still-smoldering ashes of the Canadian Freedom Convoy. Well, it’s been circling Washington, D.C. for the last several weeks in the hope it can draw sufficient attention.

Unlike the Canadian-based convoy, which saw the government deploy armed men to clear demonstrations taking place in front of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, the Americans have remained mobile to avoid getting cornered by authorities. Stationed out of Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland, truckers have established a base of operations where they can service vehicles whenever they’re not on the Beltway protesting. Drone shots from above have indicated that there are usually a few hundred trucks parked at the racetrack each morning, though videos from inside show evening returns including hundreds more supportive passenger vehicles. While journeys into the city do take place, they typically involve a handful of trucks designed to make some noise before quickly retreating to avoid being penned in.

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People's Convoy Rolls On Washington, Freedom Convoy Regrouping

On Wednesday, American truckers commenced a cross-country drive from California to Washington, D.C., to petition governments (local, state, and especially federal) to end all COVID-19 mandates. Known as The People’s Convoy, the group was inspired by the Canadian Freedom Convoy that was broken up over the weekend and effectively serves to spread its message within the United States.

The goal is to arrive in the capital early in March to pressure the Biden Administration into ending any formal federal emergencies pertaining to the pandemic. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from the District of Columbia government and the U.S. Capitol police for 700 National Guard troops, widespread fencing, and 50 armored vehicles in anticipation.

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Industry Begins Blaming the Bridge, Truckers in Ottawa

With the Ambassador Bridge having been cleared by police over the weekend, those protesting government mandates have literally been relegated to the sidelines. Canadian officers from a variety of departments, including Ontario Provincial Police, are now situated at relevant intersections and Windsor, Ontario, has declared a state of emergency in case demonstrators return.

But don’t think the story is over. The trucker blockade certainly caused trouble for the automotive sector and it suddenly seems interested in rolling the event into the industry’s ever-expanding list of excuses. Now that the rigs have all been removed, spokespeople have been chiming in and they’re being presented as rather single-minded on the matter. They want more assistance from the government to quash any protests that might impact their bottom line and are happy to have something else to blame for why the broader industry remains in such a pitiful state.

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Opinion: Freedom Convoy Truckers Hurt Their Own Cause

Whether the truckers who’ve shut down parts of Ottawa, Canada and the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Canada, are winning the debate over vaccine mandates or not, I suspect they aren’t winning the hearts and minds of some people they might otherwise be able to convince to support them.

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Freedom Convoy Update: Truckers Are Winning

The Freedom Convoy that originated in Canada last month has gained an incredible amount of momentum, garnering loads of support from citizens around the world. Sympathetic protests seem to be erupting everywhere while the original group of truckers remains planted on the streets of Ottawa to demand an end to government mandates. But honking at Parliament Hill for two weeks was only a portion of the convoy’s grand strategy.

Large groups of truckers have broken off to create blockades at meaningful border crossings, gaining control of North America’s already ailing supply lines. The most recent example resulted in the taking of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, an essential trade crossing for both the United States and Canada. Truckers have held the bridge for five days and automakers have begun announcing shutdowns due to supply issues. Meanwhile, the Canadian government has begun discussing an end to lockdown measures after failing to stop the protests and other nations appear poised to follow in its footsteps.

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Canadian Trucker Protests Continue, Aussies Launch 'Convoy to Canberra'

With supply lines being of particular importance these days, truckers are leveraging their role to encourage government to see things their way. Canada’s Freedom Convoy reached Ottawa on Friday to demand officials end pandemic-related restrictions it believes are wreaking havoc on the economy and the protests have yet to stop.

While this all started with U.S. and Canadian truckers urging the government to abandon border restrictions that forced all drivers to be vaccinated and confirmed as COVID free (starting January 15th) or be forced to quarantine for 14 days, activists are now asking Ottawa to abandon all mandates or prepare itself for worsening disruptions to already ailing supply chains. They’ve since been joined by Australian truckers, who have formed the ‘Convoy to Canberra’ for similar reasons. Future demonstrations are also being prepared for the United States.

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Stellantis Makes Decision on Vaccine, Truckers Head to Ottawa

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block proposed OSHA regulations backed by the Biden administration, it was assumed that automakers would quickly begin weighing in on vaccine rules now that there would be no federal obligation. However, they’ve actually been keeping quiet on the matter, with Stellantis being the first manufacturer to walk back previous requirements.

While the automaker had previously been working up to companywide vaccine mandates, it pushed back its vaccine deadline for early January. This week, Stellantis confirmed that it will be abandoning the scheme entirely after suggesting that the existing compliance rates were sufficient. Though something tells me that executives have become aware of the swelling pushback against COVID restrictions and became concerned with the optics.

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Vaccine Mandates Being Considered By Auto Industry, UAW

With the Biden administration having announced that it would start requiring companies to vaccinate employees, automakers and UAW are finding themselves in a sticky situation. Unions had previously said they wanted to hold off on endorsing or opposing mandatory vaccinations until after they discussed things with the industry and their own members. Considering Joe Biden said he wouldn’t make vaccines mandatory less than 10 months ago, employers are getting caught with their pants around the proverbial ankles.

Automakers had previously been surveying white-collar workers to see what they wanted to do while upping on-site COVID restrictions, but operating under the impression that any hard decisions were likely a long way off and left entirely to their discretion. Now the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is planning a new standard that requires all employers with 100 (or more) employees to guarantee their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any unvaccinated workers to produce a negative test result on a minimum weekly basis.

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Autonomous Tech Won't Displace Truckers, Biased Studies Claim

Last year, the Center for Automotive Research said robotic vehicles will eventually displace professional drivers in figures that will be “certainly in the millions.” Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs predicted trucking job losses of 25,000 per month as autonomous vehicles roll out in earnest. Truckers are going to end up like pinsetters and switchboard operators — saddled with a career that have been nullified thanks to automation, until they become extinct. However, we’ve also heard there’s a lack of manpower within the industry and that’s helping spur development.

This year, a glut of new studies emerged that suggest self-driving vehicles will actually benefit truckers. Unfortunately, they all come from sources that really want you to be stoked with the technology.

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Michigan State Troopers Call on Truckers to Avert a Suicide

Michigan State Police, along with a baker’s dozen of truckers and a couple of suburban police departments, came up with a clever solution to avert a suicide early Tuesday morning. Some time around 1:00 a.m., police received a report of a man getting ready to jump off the overpass where I-696 runs under Coolidge Hwy, just a couple of miles north of Detroit. He had either climbed over or around the protective fence and was standing on the top of the bridge’s side barrier, above eastbound traffic, near the median.

There happens to be a Michigan State Police post just a half mile away, so response was both quick and massive. While negotiators from the MSP, Oak Park, and Huntington Woods PDs talked to the man, the state police began shutting down eastbound traffic on the interstate highway. Well, they didn’t shut down traffic entirely. While cars and light trucks were rerouted off the freeway, about a half dozen tractor-trailer rigs were let through to the overpass, where police directed them to line up closely, side-by-side, directly under the bridge. The idea was to shorten the fall if the man decided to go ahead and jump. The same was done on the westbound side of the overpass. A total of 14 truckers apparently volunteered to help save the man’s life, though only 13 fit under the bridge.

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Anheuser-Busch Reserves 40 Electric Semi Trucks From Tesla Motors

When you’re selling the self-professed “King of Beers,” you’re going to want to transport them in a style befitting of royalty. Either that, or you’re interested in keeping your shipping costs to a minimum and have the capital necessary to invest in new technologies like an electric semi.

Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and over a dozen other beer brands, has decided to purchase 40 of Tesla’s battery-electric trucks. The company said it made the move in hopes of reducing fuel costs and cutting vehicle emissions. We’d also gamble that the adult beverage purveyor is interested in the vehicle’s claimed autonomous driving capabilities.

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You Read It Here First: The Biggest Challenge to Autonomous Vehicles Is All Too Human

A bit more than six years ago, I wrote “The Blockers” for this site as a work of fiction, suggesting that there may be a bit of a popular revolt against self-driving vehicles and that it might be led by those who felt personally dehumanized as a consequence of “progress.”

Now, the nice people at MIT Technology Review have caught up to your humble author’s dystopian point of view.

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Truck Careens Through Two States Before Cops Shoot Out Tire; Tased Driver Puts Up a Fight

In the made-for-TV movie Duel, a somewhat legendary film for car enthusiasts, Steven Spielberg and Richard Matheson tapped into drivers’ primal fear of being harassed by a malevolent trucker at the wheel of a semi much larger than their own vehicles.

Drivers in Indiana and Michigan experienced a non-fiction form of that fear last week, when a possibly drugged truck driver sideswiped cars as he drove erratically for almost 50 miles before police shot out one of the truck’s driving tires. The driver then punched a police dog and it took a number of officers to corral and restrain him even after he was tasered.

Around 8:30 p.m. last Thursday, May 26, Indiana State Police started receiving cellphone calls from drivers on eastbound Interstate 94 near Portage, Indiana. The drivers all reported a metal-hauling semi hitting construction barrels and sideswiping cars.

By the time Michigan State Police managed to stop him, the driver of the truck had traveled 48 miles from the time of the first reports. That highway is the main route between Chicago and Detroit and at that time of the evening, traffic is still pretty heavy as drivers sweep around the southern tip of Lake Michigan. It was fortunate that nobody was injured in the incident, according to Mlive.com.

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TTAC Sunday News Round-up: Belgian Commodore, Planes Vs Automobiles, and You Should Thank a Trucker

A Belgian named Guido is looking to save the Commodore and part of the Australian auto manufacturing industry from its ultimate demise.

That, and Pak, not Paki, is probably the more correct term, flying vs. driving, austerity pain for Porsche employees, you should thank a trucker and more … after the break!

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America's Truckers, Why Is Your Time and Fuel More Valuable Than Mine?

Long distance driving is something that I enjoy doing, but most of the time, my driving is restricted to within 50 miles of where I live, just outside of Detroit. In the past few months, though, I’ve been a bit of a highway child.

I spent my birthday in December driving to Peoria to interview the farmer who owns Larry Shinoda’s personal Boss 302 prototype for a book that I’m doing for Car Tech Books on muscle car prototypes. In January and February I made a couple of trips down near Columbus to hang out and talk guitars with Jack Baruth. Speaking of guitars – also in Ohio – was a mint condition Pee Wee Les Paul that I wanted for my grandson’s future use.

Toyota loaned me a Highlander with all-wheel drive for the Chicago Auto. Lexus tossed me an IS 350 F Sport that I took to New York. The driving conditions ranged from the Super Bowl Sunday blizzard to sunny and dry coming back from NYC. The one constant condition: America’s over the road truck drivers seem to think that their time and fuel is more valuable than of people driving cars and light trucks.

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  • Probert There's something wrong with that chart. The 9 month numbers for Tesla, in the chart, are closer to Tesla's Q3 numbers. They delivered 343,830 cars in q3 and YoY it is a 40% increase. They sold 363,830 but deliveries were slowed at the end of the quarter - no cars in inventory. For the past 9 months the total sold is 929,910 . So very good performance considering a major shutdown for about a month in China (Covid, factory revamp). Not sure if the chart is also inaccurate for other makers.
  • ToolGuy "...overall length grew only fractionally, from 187.6” in 1994 to 198.7” in 1995."Something very wrong with that sentence. I believe you just overstated the length by 11 inches.
  • ToolGuy There is no level of markup on the Jeep Wrangler which would not be justified or would make it any less desirable [perfectly inelastic demand, i.e., 'I want one']. Source: My 21-year-old daughter.
  • ToolGuy Strong performance from Fiat.
  • Inside Looking Out GM is like America, it does the right thing only after trying everything else.  As General Motors goes, so goes America.