Aussie freight and transport sector urges govt to develop zero emission truck strategy

In News4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 5, 2023

The Australian freight and transport sector is calling on the government to develop and implement a National Zero Emission Truck Strategy to deliver its net zero emissions commitments.

The Electric Vehicle Council, Australian Trucking Association, Heavy Vehicle Industry Association and the Australian Hydrogen Council have joined forces to advocate for government direction and support that goes beyond light vehicles, the focus of the government’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy launched last week.

While the Strategy and commitment to a Fuel Efficiency Standard is a major step forward for Australia, the freight and transport industry believes trucks and logistics will be left in the slow lane to decarbonisation if the scope of government policy isn’t expanded, the organisations said.

The freight and logistics transport sector contributes 38% of Australia’s transport emissions. While Australia has a legislated commitment to net zero emissions, there is no plan for reducing emissions from road freight transport.

“The Australian trucking industry faces significant barriers to the adoption of zero emission trucks, including vehicle design rules, lack of electric truck recharging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, and a temporary but significant higher upfront cost,” the organisations said.

The group is urging the Australian Government to:

▪    Develop a national zero emission truck strategy

▪    Sign the global memorandum of understanding on zero-emission trucks, to set clear climate ambition for medium and heavy vehicles

▪    Fix the regulatory barriers (i.e. width and axle mass limits) to zero-emission trucks, to increase vehicle model supply

▪    Increase investment in electric recharging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for trucks

▪    Implement a purchase price incentive for zero-emission trucks

▪    Fund and implement an upskilling and reskilling plan to ensure the preparedness of the workforce to transition to a zero-emission   fleet.

“Australia has a legislated net zero emissions target but needs a strategy for zero-emissions trucks,” said Samuel Marks, sustainability and future transport manager, Australian Trucking Association.

“We need to move from one-off pilot projects to a strategy that enables all trucking operators to plan with certainty for low- and zero-emissions transport.

“Financial incentives in the United States mean that cost parity for urban electric trucks is already approaching cost parity with diesel trucks, and Australia now risks falling behind,” he said.

“Stronger action now to incentivise and enable trucking operators to deploy zero emission trucks will enable industry to reduce carbon emissions whilst continuing to drive a growing economy.”

Fiona Simon, chief executive at the Australian Hydrogen Council, said the decarbonisation of Australia’s transport sector is becoming increasingly urgent.

“Heavy vehicles in particular require clear policy and strong enablers to propel transition,” she said.

“There is a cost of not acting. Heavy vehicle transition is already naturally delayed, compounded by the timeframe they remain on the road and regulatory barriers. It is with absolute urgency that a comprehensive low emissions trucks strategy be developed.”