Berlin, June 2023
One of the most serious and chronic problems affecting the logistics industry today is the dramatic shortage of truck drivers worldwide. The issue comes as the pool of professional drivers is contracting – while demand for transport continues to rise.
Crowdsourcing: The Smart Answer to the Driver Shortage in Logistics.
600.000 vacant driver positions in 2022
According to recent research by the International Road Transport Union (IRU), there are 2.8 million truck and bus driver vacancies worldwide as of 2022, representing about 10% of overall demand. The current gap is projected to widen by 25% each year, illustrating the magnitude of the problem. In Europe alone, nearly 600.000 truck and bus driver positions remained vacant last year. Without concerted action to make the driver profession more accessible and attractive, Europe could lack over 2 million professional drivers by 2026, impacting half of all freight movements and millions of passenger journeys.
The sector of vehicle logistics is no exception, with many mobility providers and vehicle logistics companies struggling to find enough drivers to meet demand. Driver shortages have been affecting the global road freight market for many years, for two main reasons: First is an aging workforce, with many of the current drivers approaching retirement age. Secondly, it’s becoming harder to replace them. Truck driving is a demanding job, and long hours on the road can make it a less attractive career choice for many, presenting a daunting challenge for recruiters.
Carmakers all over Europe feeling the pain
On top of these issues, some events have made the problem even worse in recent years: Many of Europe’s truck drivers come from Ukraine and have become unavailable since the start of the war, deepening logistics troubles that started with the COVID-19 pandemic and continued with semiconductor shortages which slowed vehicle production. Everyone is feeling the pain, from mobility providers to logistic companies, leaving even Europe’s biggest carmakers unable to ship thousands of finished vehicles to buyers and dealerships.
As recently reported by Automotive News Europe, truck driver shortages left thousands of cars stuck at Stellantis’s plant in eastern France in late 2022, forcing the company to park many of them on an abandoned airfield several kilometers away from the factory. Volkswagen has been hit by similar problems, leaving Europe’s biggest carmaker unable to ship finished vehicles to buyers. And Renault also flagged outbound logistics problems when it reported full-year results earlier this year.
The hunt for vehicle logistic capacity is on
As a result, most car manufacturers are scrambling to increase their logistic capacities. Stellantis, the maker of Fiat and Peugeot cars, sent off emails and placed posters in some of its factories in a drive to convince workers to fill in behind the wheel. They are currently testing other creative ways to get cars to their customers. Dealers, for example, are allowed to come and pick up vehicles themselves. Renault as well are turning to their own ranks to tackle the shortage of truck drivers that has left thousands of vehicles stranded away from dealerships and customers.
It will take all these creative measures and more to fight the current effects of the growing shortage of truck drivers in vehicle logistics. But the issue is growing so quickly that it is time to think about expanding capacity in innovative and sustainable ways. The great news in this context: the goods needing transport in our industry are vehicles that can be driven by nearly everyone with a driving license, making crowdsourcing a real alternative to the reliance on professional drivers.
Crowdsourcing substantially expands capacity
The idea is simple: recruiting private travelers as drivers can be part of a multi-lateral solution to expand vehicle logistic capacity. Marketing vehicle transfers as inexpensive one-way car rentals unlocks a previously untapped, significant potential of consumers willing to move vehicles to where they are needed in exchange for an affordable travel option. On the other hand, the benefits of crowdsourcing drivers for vehicle logistics are numerous. Some key advantages are:
Leveraging the power of crowdsourcing
As with any new technology or process, there are also challenges to overcome with crowdsourcing. For example, companies need to ensure that drivers on a crowdsourcing platform are properly vetted and insured, and that they adhere to all safety and regulatory requirements. However, these challenges can be addressed with proper planning, implementation, and ongoing monitoring. Today, a few innovative startups are already hard at work to make crowdsourcing a truly scalable and reliable extension of driver capacity in vehicle logistics, trailblazing a path for others to follow.
By leveraging the power of crowdsourcing, mobility providers and logistics companies will gain access to a flexible, cost-effective and scalable workforce, while also supporting the local community with affordable travel options and reducing environmental impact of their logistic supply chain. Overall, crowdsourcing drivers in vehicle logistics will be a powerful tool to help the mobility industry mitigate the effects of driver shortages and expand their vehicle logistic capacity in the future. It’s time to embrace this innovation and invest in its development in order to realize its full potential for the benefit of the entire industry.
Eustach von Wulffen is Co-Founder and CEO of Movacar (www.movacar.de), a Berlin-based mobility-logistics startup that has established the Power of Crowdsourcing as a win-win concept in the market: With Movacar, users have access to one-way rentals starting at 1€ while professional fleet operators significantly reduce their cost for vehicle transfers. Through multiple partnerships with major car rental companies, Movacar’s offering has grown sustainably since 2019. Since 2022, Movacar users have access not only to rental cars but also vans and camper vans for road trips across Europe.