Big issues take centre stage at Trucking Industry Summit

In News6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 5, 2022

Decarbonisation, deteriorating roads, under-investment in infrastructure, labour shortages, and increasing compliance costs were some of the main issues explored at this year’s Trucking Industry Summit.

More than 360 transport operators, industry representatives and Government officials descended on the Te Pae Convention Centre in Christchurch over the weekend for the 2022 Trucking Industry Summit to discuss the big issues facing the industry over the next few years.

“The focus at the summit was decarbonisation, infrastructure, and regulation – all of which need to work hand-in-hand to ensure the New Zealand economy can prosper now and in the future,” said NZ Trucking Association chief executive David Boyce.

“Looming large is the fact that New Zealand has a target of a 35% emissions reduction by 2035, while at the same time the national freight task is set to increase 40% by 2052.”

Minister for Transport. Michael Wood opened the Summit emphasising that Government and industry need to understand each other to work effectively to achieve our common objectives.

He confirmed that through the Government’s Low Emission Transport Fund, administered by EECA, operators have access to funding to support vehicle and technology projects, and public charging infrastructure. Following the success of the Clean Car Discount initiative, work is underway to identify incentives to support and drive change in the heavy freight.

National Road Carriers COO, James Smith said the industry and Government recognise the status quo is not working within the sector.

“Despite increased investment and funding, the roads are in a worsening state of disrepair – largely because the capacity to deliver the work is just not there,” he said.

“And this is being exacerbated by global issues such as inflation forcing the cost of everything up and significant labour shortages.

“There is no silver bullet to solving the degrading transport infrastructure across New Zealand. A collaborative public-private partnership approach is needed to solve these significant challenges, and NRC and NZT are here on behalf of the industry to help make that happen.”

Smith noted that industry is already on the journey. He applauded local businesses Hiringa Energy and TR Group who are investing heavily into hydrogen networks and alternative energy heavy vehicles.

“Early investment in these new technologies will overtime provide options for the industry that become scalable, affordable, meet payload requirements and importantly reduce our industry’s carbon footprint,” he said.

“To continue to compete locally and internationally we need to be able to help all our members to ‘do more, produce zero’.

“The Summit reinforced our intention to work closely with Government to address decarbonisation, infrastructure and regulation amongst other challenges to find and implement solutions that are mutually beneficial.”

Tara MacMillan, Bruce O’Brien, James Smith, Neil Walker, Brett Aldridge, Harriet Shelton

What does a low carbon transport future look like?

According to Boyce, “Consensus from the Summit was that decarbonisation of the national heavy goods vehicle fleet will need to be a combination of EV, biofuels, and hydrogen. Barriers for adoption will need to be overcome through a range of incentives including, Government funding support for early adopters, and upgrading of the electricity and power infrastructure to facilitate the fast charging of heavy goods vehicles.

“Support needs to be given to New Zealand businesses investing and innovating in this space – not all will succeed but every venture will contribute to the solutions,” he said.

“There was widespread agreement at the Summit that industry and Government will work together to support the decarbonisation journey.”

NRC’s Transport and Logistics Advisory Group cChair, Hon Simon Bridges observed that while the challenges facing the industry are clear, the solutions are less so. “The industry must focus on the positives and opportunities – there is a heap of innovation happening in the trucking sector with EV and hydrogen trucks leading the way. Additionally, the industry must focus on partnering with Government and Government agencies.”

Bridges had a word of warning to the industry. “Effectively if we don’t engage, collaborate, and partner, the change will happen without us and to us.” Smith added, “It’s also time for individuals in the industry to do some heavy lifting, we are no longer in a passive environment, where you can just get carried along.”

Look out for our ongoing coverage of the summit starting in the September 2022 issue of New Zealand Trucking magazine.