Green Truck Summit: Driving industry sustainability, productivity and efficiency

This article was published in the April 2024 edition of NTEA News.

Green Truck Summit, held in conjunction with Work Truck Week 2024, provided insights, solutions and resources in support of the work truck industry’s drive toward achieving greater sustainability, productivity and efficiency. Green Truck Summit offered intensive programs from industry experts, government representatives, fleets, and vehicle and equipment manufacturers. Sessions addressed the evolution of the commercial vehicle landscape as the shift toward zero emissions continues to accelerate. Conference topics included 

  • Fleet perspectives on advanced vehicle technology adoption
  • Chassis OEM insights on the changing vehicle fuel landscape
  • Advanced fuels global market trends
  • Electric vehicle safety
  • Natural gas fuel options for work trucks
  • Getting started with hydrogen and fuel cell technology

John Davis, host/creator/managing director of MotorWeek, returned as emcee. Sponsored by Daimler Truck North America and Freightliner, the event featured a keynote address, three general sessions and a slate of afternoon breakout sessions, followed by a closing session and reception.

Keynote address
Mary Aufdemberg, general manager of product strategy and market development at Daimler Trucks North America, delivered the Green Truck Summit keynote address. Aufdemberg is responsible for platform strategy, market development, brand management, marketing communications and marketing operations for DTNA’s Freightliner and Western Star truck brands, as well as the company’s proprietary parts brand, Detroit. She is an 18-year veteran of DTNA who has held progressive management positions with Daimler Truck Financial, Thomas Built Buses and Freightliner Trucks. She holds an MBA in international marketing and finance from DePaul University as well as a bachelor’s in marketing from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

During her keynote, Aufdemberg focused on the importance of partnerships in addressing transportation industry challenges during the transformation to a sustainable, CO2-neutral future.

“First of all, there are a lot of challenges facing us and if we don’t talk about them, there’s no way we’re going to be taking the right actions we need to overcome them,” said Aufdemberg. “But I also want all of us here to realize that I come here with a can-do spirit. I come with an understanding that collectively we can make this happen, and it’s going to take partnerships.” 

She introduced attendees to Rudolf Diesel, who invented the diesel engine, and noted that power has changed since the beginning of time — and this includes the diesel engine, which has also seen so many innovations over the past 120 years.
“There’s been tremendous innovation and amazing action,” she said. “We know that clean diesel will be an important part of this equation through this decade as well as into the next. We can’t do it alone or by producing zero-emission vehicles.”

Aufdemberg pointed out this isn’t the first time the industry has gone through disruptive change. She referenced the introduction of the automated manual transmission (AMT), which went through a transition period when it became available for sale through adoption when the industry realized benefits for drivers, fuel efficiency and safety. But she noted, it might not be a fair example, considering it didn’t require an infrastructure investment. 

“Today we talk about a bigger and more complex disruption,” she said. “The transformation to cleaner, alternative fuels and propulsion. With that comes the need for an ecosystem that wraps around it.”

She added that we’ve come a long way as 30 years ago, one truck produced more emissions than 60 trucks produced today. Moreover, we have not stopped making this a cleaner world. In the past 15 years, emissions from semi-trucks have been reduced by more than 20%. But we want to do more. We can always do more. No one said it would be easy, but for generations to come, it will be worth it. And it’s worth figuring it out. And it’s worth taking the hard actions. She called this worth it work.

She concluded, “We don’t have all the answers, but we are working on solutions. It’s a journey we are all a part of. With the complexity of vehicle types, customer needs, ecosystem challenges, there’s no easy button. But there is a will. And behind that will, there’s action, and that’s critical.”

“I wake up every morning thankful to be in the transportation industry. We keep the world moving. We keep the economy humming. We keep the jobs rolling literally. We are so fortunate, and we have great responsibility,” Aufdemberg added. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” 

General sessions
Following the keynote address, Green Truck Summit featured three general sessions.

  • Fueling the Future: Fleet Perspectives on Advanced Fuel Solutions 
    This session featured fleet leaders who are at the forefront of advanced vehicle technology adoption. Panelists from DTE Energy, Cobb County Georgia and Bimbo Bakeries USA, shared their experiences and lessons learned across a variety of applications and fuel types, as well as challenges and successes encountered on the path to identifying and implementing vehicle propulsion solutions to meet their operational needs.
  • Chassis OEMs’ Vision for Advanced Vehicle and Fuel Technology
    Representatives from General Motors, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America and Navistar shared their insights into the evolving vehicle technology and fuel landscape, as well as strategic considerations for different applications in vehicle planning. This session explored what’s on the horizon in the next five years and highlighted the innovations, trends and technologies that will shape the commercial vehicle industry.
  • Advanced Fuels: Global Market Trends
    In this session, Tim Campbell, managing director of Campbells Consultancy, provided a global perspective on advanced fuel solutions and potential effects on the North American market. He covered vehicle propulsion trends, forthcoming efficiency technologies, and regulatory and emissions mandates.

Breakout sessions
Following the general sessions and lunch, Green Truck Summit registrants were able choose from four sets of 30-minute breakout sessions on topics including EV charging impacts on the utility grid, natural gas fuel options, safety considerations for advanced fuel vehicles, getting started with hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, ePTO considerations and product updates from sponsoring companies. Breakout sessions included:

  • A Primer on Low-Carbon Liquid Fuels
  • Clean Fuel Deployment
  • Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer for Heavy Trucks
  • ePTO Considerations
  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Implications
  • Overview and Applications of Natural Gas Fuel Options in Work Trucks
  • Safety Considerations for Advanced Fuel Vehicles
  • Sponsored Update Sessions from Allison Transmission and Isuzu Commercial Truck of America 
  • Understanding EV Charging Impacts on the Utility Grid

Closing session
Green Truck Summit wrapped up the day with the Bringing It Home – Green Truck Association Closing Session. During this session, current and past leaders of NTEA’s Green Truck Association served as the “voice of reason,” highlighting key elements of the day’s sessions and discussing issues affecting the work truck industry. Green Truck Summit concluded with a reception.

See a full recap of Work Truck Week, including photos, at