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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Dec. 31, 2020

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Dec. 31, 2020

China Economy to Overtake US Sooner; Another Hit for Nikola Motors; Super Duper New Truck Stop Opens; Rai Freight Volumes Turn Positive for First Time in Two Years



That is now the year the Chinese economy is expected to top the US in dollar terms, five years earlier than expected, according to a new forecast from the UK's Centre for Economics and Business Research this week. The report said the consultancy is changing its timeline for the China to overtake the US as a result of the coronavirus, which hit US economic output more so than China's. As more evidence of Asia's growing economic power, the report say India is set to move up the rankings to become the number 3 economy at the end of the decade, bypassing Japan and Germany. Chinese President Xi Jinping said last month it was "entirely possible" for his economy to double in size by 2035 under his government's new Five-Year Plan, which aims to achieve "modern socialism," in 15 years.




That was the minimum number of hydrogen fuel cell trucks  that sanitation company Republic Services had agreed to buy from Nikola Motors in August, with options for another 2500 more. That sent Nikola's stock pricing up sharply at the time. But not long after that, Nikola's stock price collapsed after a Wall Street firm issued a report questioning the company's ability to deliver on its technology and calling Nikola an "intricate fraud." Shortly after, Nikola founder Trevor Milton abruptly stepped down. Then, GM cancelled a previously announced partnership as a result of all the bad news. Now, the Nikola-Republic deal is over too, according to the truck maker this week. In a letter to employees, Nikola'a new CEO Mark Russell said the company decided to end the Republic collaboration after realizing that fulfilling the order would require Nikola to design an entirely new truck, rather than use designs already in the works. That sent Nikola's stock to fall another 10% to about $16 per share, down from almost $80 in June.




That is the number of square feet of space in a freshly opened truck stop by the Love's Travel Stop chain in its largest facility yet, located in Bliss, Idaho. That stop was one of four recently opened new Love's truck stops, which in total add 322 new and badly needed overnight truck parking places on heavily traveled truck routes in the Midwest. All four new locations were opened on the day. In addition to having the largest retail footprint in the Love's chain, the Bliss, Idaho location has features including: a McDonald's and Subway restaurants; 115 truck parking spaces; nine showers; laundry facilities; a dog park and more. Good to see better facilities for US truckers.





That was the year-over-year rise in rail car loads in Q4 – the first such quarterly gain in two years for a once hot but recently struggling rail sector. That according to American Association of Railroads weekly report compiled by Susquehanna Financial Group. Consumer spending powered the gain in car loads, as people bought more goods instead of spending on dining out or attending concerts during the coronavirus pandemic. That offset lower volume for oil, coal, autos and other products. Intermodal volume growth led the way, rising more than 10% in the quarter. Declining coal shipments have been part but not all of the US rail industry's challenges the past few years, and other sectors like autos were impacted by the pandemic. Rail volumes may get a boost going forward by move by the incoming Biden administration to reduce US CO2 emissions.

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