Travel Centers of the Future - The Road to Autonomy

Travel Centers of the Future

John Tully, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Pilot Flying J joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss how Pilot Flying J is developing the travel centers of the future.

The conversation begins with John discussing how Pilot Flying J will continue to prosper as Bloomberg New Energy Finance is projecting that road fuel demand will peak in 2027.

Simply stated, our job is to provide the fuel, the amenities, for our customers where they want it.

– John Tully

Whether its gas, diesel, hydrogen or electric, Pilot Flying J will be providing their customers with the right fuel for their vehicle. For the professional over-the-road drivers, the company provides food, showers, parking and Wi-Fi. Over the next three years, Pilot Flying J will be investing over one billion dollars to upgrade the stores and the amenities offered to drivers and customers.

In addition to upgrading the stores and amenities, Pilot Flying J is upgrading the infrastructure to support electric vehicles and electric heavy-duty trucks. The EV infrastructure is being rolled out across 500 locations with 2,000 charging stalls through a partnership with GM and EVGo.

We are approaching this to try and help answer as a collective, with Pilot as part of that collective the range anxiety question. We are not just doing this where the highest utilization is, we are doing it where we can connect via the corridor urban areas to urban areas.

– John Tully

As part of the rollout of EV charging stations, Pilot Flying J is focused on uptime. They want to ensure that when you show up, the chargers are online, working and convenient.

We are putting in 350kw chargers with two hoses with the idea of being able to provide that premium service for our customers.

– John Tully

For trucks, Pilot has a partnership with the Volvo Group to build a charging network for medium and heavy-duty electric trucks. While the partnerships with GM, EVGo and Volvo Group might seem exclusive, they are are not. The charging infrastructure being installed will be open to all drivers.

What we are trying to do is setup an ecosystem that works for all of our customers.

– John Tully

In addition to leaning into the future with fuels, Pilot Flying J is leaning into the future of autonomous trucks through an investment in Kodiak Robotics. As part of the investment in Kodiak, John joined the board. One of the defining factors of the investment was Kodiak’s culture and how it aligns with the Pilot Flying J culture.

We think that autonomous trucking is solving a real problem that exists. We think that it is something that lives alongside our existing fleet customers and the drivers. Drivers are super core to us. It’s how can we continue to provide and improve what we are doing for our drivers while also looking ahead and seeing where our customers are heading and make sure that we can provide part of those solutions for the autonomous world as well.

– John Tully

Wrapping up the conversation, John shares his insights into Pilot Flying J’s long-term strategy of fueling life’s journeys.

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Recorded on Tuesday December 6, 2022