Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Jan. 17, 2019 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Jan. 17, 2019

US DC Space Gets Still Tighter; China Trade Surplus with US again Sets New Record; Nikola Seeing Big Interest in Fuel Cell Trucks; US Truckload Rate Increases Not Slowing Down



That is how much US warehouse and other industrial space availability declined in Q4, to the lowest point since 2000. That according to real estate firm CBRE, in its new flash analysis of US market conditions. Demand for space exceeded supply by roughly 6 million square feet in the fourth quarter and by 29 million square feet for the full year, according to CBRE - and that gap between demand and supply grew wider in the second half of the year. "Demand is not slowing. It continues to show very robust levels," said Richard Barkham, CBRE's global chief economist and head of research for the Americas. "In 2019, it will remain quite a competitive market for people to get hold of the logistics assets they need." The tight capacity has not surprisingly driven up the costs of warehousing sharply in recent years, and lease rates look to higher again in 2019. The US market for distribution centers and other storage sites has become increasingly competitive in recent years as the growth of ecommerce has boosted demand for warehouse space, especially for large sites located near major population centers.



That was the US trade deficit with China in 2018, the biggest gap in history despite US tariffs meant to restrict imports from China. That according to data released this week from the Chinese government – data from the US government for December and the full year have not yet been announced. China's surplus with the US grew a whopping 17% from a year ago. CNBC says the trade deficit that the US has with China is likely even bigger than these figures indicate since China calculates the numbers using different methods, sometimes excluding goods that end up in the US via other countries. Exports to the United States rose 11.3% year on year in 2018, while imports from the U.S. to China rose a meager 0.7% during that period. Exports to the United States rose 11.3% year-on-year in 2018, while imports from the US to China rose a meager 0.7% during that period.



That's how many hydrogen fueling stations fuel cell truck maker Nikola Motor Co. plans to build in the US over the next seven years, the company's founder and CEO Trevor Milton said during an interview with Transport Topics magazine this week. That statement came after Milton announced private fleet Anheuser-Busch and truckload carrier U.S. Xpress Enterprises will begin fleet tests of Nikola's zero-emissions hydrogen-electric Class 8 trucks by the end of the year, as it develops the necessary fueling infrastructure in Phoenix, where the tests will be held. As with natural gas powered trucks previously, it is a chicken-and-egg scenario, with carriers and shippers needing fueling infrastructure to test and adopt the technology, and Nikola needing customers to afford to build those fueling stations. With this technology, a hydrogen fuel cell charges one or more batteries, which power the truck. Nikola says it already has about 11,000 orders for its truck, to be unveiled in April.



That was the year-over-year rise in US truckload rates in December, as measured each month by the Cass Linehaul Index, which tracks US per mile truck load rates before fuel surcharges and other accessorials. That continues an incredible run, with the Index was up at least 6.5% year-over-year every month of the 2018, and up at least 9% from May thru September. Many thought that with some signs the US economy is slowing a bit that the truckers pricing run would slow, but apparently not. The Index naturally set another new record, up to 144.2, meaning rates are now up 44.2% since the baseline year of 2005. But rate gains should slow this year. "We expect continued nominal price increases in the coming months, but slightly lower percentage increases as comparisons grow increasingly tough," said Donald Broughton, analyst and commentator for the Cass indexes. "Our realized pricing forecast for 2019 is now for 2% to 5% increaes."