Volvo Penta Interview & Lots Of Union Talk

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Last week was Thanksgiving, and I had the good fortune to be able to spend time with two of my equipment industry friends — Darren Tasker from Volvo Penta and Mike Switzer from Stevens Engineering … and we thought “Black Friday” would be as good a day as any to put together an episode of The Heavy Equipment Podcast.

What Is The Heavy Equipment Podcast?

HEP cover art.

The Heavy Equipment Podcast is an after-hours project I launched last summer with my good friend, Mike Switzer. Of course, we talk about a lot of sustainability stuff — but it’s usually a more lighthearted, goofy take on things than you’ll get from CleanTech Talk.

On last week’s episode HEP-isode, I interviewed Darren Tasker, Vice President of Industrial Sales for Volvo Penta, to talk about the brand’s push beyond marine engine and generator sets and into hydrogen fuel cells and battery energy storage systems (BESS) — and the role Volvo Penta’s electric efforts are playing in the decarbonization efforts of its OEM partners.

We also discuss a collaboration between Volvo Penta and CMB.TECH to develop a diesel, hydrogen, and ammonia multi-fuel engine as a low-carbon interim solution before suitable zero-emissions alternatives become viable at the kind of huge, kilowatt scales sometimes needed on commercial job sites.

Mike and I then discuss a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress that promises overtime pay for heavy truck drivers. That’s something that, you might be surprised to learn, drivers haven’t been eligible for up to now — and it’s one of the many factors that’s been driving the current driver shortage.

“There’s a retention problem,” Michael Belzer, Wayne State University professor, told FreightWaves last year. “It’s simply because you don’t pay these people. After you’re paid for working 40 hours when you really worked 65, you get to be unhappy. And that’s why they quit.”

From there, the whole thing devolves into making fun of Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin, who hilariously challenged fourth-generation Teamster Sean O’Brien to a fist fight on the Senate floor. O’Brien had previously Tweeted (X’ed?) a picture of Markwayne standing on some phonebooks or something so he could see over the podium.

Really, I can’t make fun of this Markwayne guy enough.

If you want to hear more about Volvo Penta’s decarbonization efforts and our take on overtime pay, the Teamsters, the UAW strikes, and maybe an Ovaltine commercial, give it a listen — then let us know what you think in the comments.

Whether we’re exploring the latest in trucking technology, talking about the trends that propel the industry forward, or uncovering stories about the dedicated individuals who keep the wheels of America turning — this is where the roar of the engines and the pulse of progress come together — it’s sublime, it’s surreal, it’s the Heavy Equipment Podcast … with Mike and Jo!


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