Transportation’s vital role in Michigan


A fleet of commercial semi trucks in a line on a partly cloudy day

The 20-year outlook is that trucks will still rule but automation and eCommerce will change the way our goods are delivered.

How important is freight transportation to Michigan’s economy? To get a sense of this market sector’s magnitude, imagine that each of our state’s 9.9 million residents received 48 tons of deliveries. That’s the combined weight of 32 Chevy Cruzes!

Every year, 479 million tons of products—including everything from farm and food products to metals and chemicals—move through Michigan’s transportation system. Over roads, on the rails and water, and in the sky!

The Michigan Department of Transportation reports that while all modes of transportation are vital to Michigan’s economy, 65 percent of all our freight is hauled by truck. Here are the trends they see unfolding.

Michigan leads the way with truck platooning

Advances in technology will lead to more “platooned trucks.” This is when three or more trucks are guided by a lead vehicle. Michigan is the first state in the nation to allow research and testing of an automated convoy. Watch how platooning works here.

Changing logistics

Logistical patterns for retail goods will be modified in response to three factors:

  • increased eCommerce sales
  • truck driver shortages
  • potential fluctuations in fuel costs

Productivity gains

Expect to see productivity gains through use of more efficient truck configurations. For example, Michigan now allows trucks that haul lightweight field-drain tubing to be longer to make delivery more efficient.

20-year tonnage outlook

Tonnage across all freight modes in Michigan are expected to increase by 2040.

Air cargo volumes will see the biggest increase with 73.4 percent in growth. Air freight will rise mainly because of increased consumer demand for online shopping and overnight delivery of purchases.

However, trucks will continue to move more freight than any other mode. Highway transport tonnage will increase 58 percent.

Rail will carry 49.8 percent more tonnage and waterborne freight will increase a modest 7 percent.

Need financing for transportation?

When it comes to financing transportation operations and assets, business members turn to Consumers first for a commercial equipment loan. Contact a Consumers business development manager  and ask how we can help you grow your enterprise.

Do you have business banking questions? Contact our knowledgeable business development managers or call 800.991.2221. We’re here to help you grow your business!


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