With a remarkable conference programme and hundreds of exhibitors, ACT Expo 2024 is probably the most awaited sustainable transportation event in North America. Lawren Markle, director of media relations at GNA, a TRC Company, the organizers of the U.S.-based exhibition to be held in Las Vegas from 20 to 23 May, helps us understand the secret behind the success of this event. This year, Sustainable Truck&Van is proudly media partner of the exhibition.

We’re just ahead of this year’s edition. In terms of booked space, exhibitor involvement, and visitors, what are your expectations regarding ACT Expo 2024?

I can tell you it’s going to be the largest expo floor ever. We have 350 exhibitors and sponsors, with about 200 vehicles on display. Until a few years ago, ACT Expo was a tiny corner at Long Beach convention center. It grew about 50% every year and finally we had to move to Anaheim last year, and now Las Vegas, where we have much more space, because we are growing so fast. Last year we had over 12,000 visitors, this year we might get closer to 18,000, so a steady and consistent growth over the years.

Lawren Markle, director of media relations at GNA, a TRC Company

ACT Expo 2024, a valuable mix of technologies

Moreover, at ACT Expo we’ll see a very good mix of technology. On the electric side we’ll have the next generation of products, with manufacturers often moving to series production. We’ll see more fuel cell electric vehicles, with some concrete progress in that regard. And then all the supporting technologies, for instance on charging infrastructure, and so on.

In this regard, one thing that happened this year in the States was that about 7 billion dollars were invested by the Federal Government into hydrogen hubs, so a massive federal initiative to build up the hydrogen economy. I think we’ll see increased interest also because of that.

Last year, the exhibition was held in Anaheim, while this year Las Vegas is the chosen venue. Why have you decided such change?

The need to have more space for vehicles, exhibitors and attendees. This was the main reason why we moved the exhibition to Las Vegas. Las Vegas convention center is quite big, though, so I’d suggest wearing comfortable shoes this year!

Jokes aside, I think the show is in its mainstream, with fleets talking to other fleets about what they’re doing when it comes to electrification. The huge display of vehicles makes it possible to learn about state-of-the-art technology. Also, the products on display may help companies taking better decisions about their business about vehicles, charging infrastructure, charging power they need and so on.


This year’s trending topics

What are the major trends and topics to be discussed this year as for clean transportation advancements at ACT Expo?

Funding is a big part of the program. Professionals often don’t know how to deal with incentives, tax credits and so on, and coming to ACT Expo can be a good way to be aware. It’s a great place to talk through the way incentives work. Also, the reporting requirements for fundingare getting more and more important and there will be experts talking about these issues.

Of course, a trending topic is hydrogen, now seen as a viable solution mainly for fleets. We’re seeing some companies focusing their attention on building up hydrogen refueling infrastructure in strategic locations along the main freight corridors in North America for heavy-duty trucks. It’s exciting to see it coming: fleets are interested in hydrogen but there’s not suitable infrastructure yet. We’ll see, there’s a lot to learn about progress at this year’s event, and we expect several expo hall press events on the topic of hydrogen.

The last edition placed emphasis on component manufacturers, who are the real drivers of the energy transition. Will this be the case again this year?

As the market matures we are seeing more and more finished, commercial vehicles and ready-to-use fueling and charging products, which are both of great interest to fleets. There are still a fair amount of components being displayed, such as fuel cells, e-axles, engines and other components. These technologies help define next year’s finished products, so it’s exciting to see that evolution. Furthermore, the conference is becoming more and more international, with numerous exhibitors coming from Europe and Asia, too.

Can you please name some of the major OEMs and companies that confirmed their participation in this year’s edition? Could you give us some anticipations on what we’ll see in Las Vegas?

The big companies will be there, such as Volvo Trucks, Navistar, Daimler Truck North America, Mack Trucks, Peterbilt, Kenworth, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some of them. All the big names will be there. On stage we’ve assembled all the big truck makers together talking on the same panel about electrification, strategies, reducing emissions, and more. Even Tesla will have a speaker at ACT Expo. Some more companies, like Nikola for instance, will be there with their own booth. In terms of products, we do expect new truck reveals.

Navistar NEXT trailer
A Navistar truck

What effect is the Inflation Reduction Act having on the industry?

The bigger picture is that a lot of activities are happening at the State level now. You have some great federal incentives too, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, which allow for big investments. Moreover, a dozen states have adopted the Advanced Clear Trucks rule. That rule requires manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of zero emission trucks.

Fleets are starting to realize that change is coming

Also, the Advanced Clean Fleets rule is a sort of sister rule implemented in January, requiring many fleets to buy zero emission vehicles. Fleets are starting to realize that change is coming, and investments are needed, now. Regardless of what happens with the national elections at the White House or the Senate, this transition is under way. And there’s also all this money out there. For the first time, companies can claim a 40,000 dollar federal tax credits if they buy a zero-emission truck. It’s a regulatory movement and a trend that is quite clear.

So, you don’t foresee a change of direction after the next election in the U.S.

I think that what will happen at the national elections does not imply a big change because you have these long investment cycles like the Inflation Reduction Act or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act with tons of money targeted towards to the transportation sector in order to promote zero- or ultra-low emissions. And in terms of fleets, they have an increasing number of options in both equipment and funding options to make these transition projects happen. They want to be prepared for that; they don’t want to be late. Fleet operators are becoming more familiar with technologies they didn’t know so well before. Fleets want to hear from their peers about how other operators are working with zero-emission vehicles so successfully.

What are your plans to keep the exhibition lively? Does ACT Expo look to America or even across the Pacific and Atlantic?

We created a market here with ACT Expo for all the professionals involved in zero-emission vehicles. The show almost makes the market. Naturally, the exhibition is going to attract companies from all over the world. The percentage of foreign exhibitors is steadily growing and it’s exciting to see.


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