‘Last orders gentlemen!’

In Newsletter Editorial6 MinutesBy Dave McCoidSeptember 30, 2022

A famous old ‘six o’clock swill’ turn of phrase, and maybe one that’s about to become relevant in the realm of truck buying. Who’d have thought?

If you’re in the habit of buying trucks with a projected service life of 10 years or more, we’re probably at the point where this next round will be your last easy decision. If you’re a five-year turn-around buyer, maybe it’s your second to last, but I wouldn’t even bet the house on that to be frank.

In the course of the next two decades, what was one of road transport’s more fundamental and enjoyable tasks will take on a whole new complexity. A layered, decision making process.

It’s been a fascinating fortnight. Attending the IAA Transportation show in Hanover, and then the Transporting New Zealand Conference in Invercargill, you might think a direct comparison between one of the globe’s showpiece trade shows, and an association gathering in little old ‘Godszone’ is a stretch. But far from it. There were perfectly aligned key themes at both events. Hearing the talk at Hanover, and then Invercargill, the forward-looking position for New Zealand operators is promising, as long as we keep our foot on the gas…or electrons.

Propulsion and information are both on the cusp of major overhaul. Yes, information yet again, and this time it’s going to be impossible to avoid, but more on that down the track.

From the moment you walked into the first hall at Hanover you realised our world is changing.

In the wake of the 2020 ACEA joint statement by Europe’s heavy vehicle manufacturers to bin diesel production by 2040 – contingent on appropriate infrastructural support – the EV and FCEV developmental path has hit overdrive.

The bad news for Europe is that infrastructural support is lagging terribly; the good news for New Zealand, on the other hand, is this aspect is in better shape. Although there’s apparently a tardiness on the part of local power generators and wholesalers in accepting there may be new ways of doing business on the horizon, hydrogen’s infrastructural support is well underway, with one station up and running and others in build. If DEF taught us anything, it was ensuring trucks can refuel before letting them all out in the wild.

The panel discussion on Day 2 of the Transporting New Zealand Conference with Liz Yeaman – Retyna (EV sector), Ryan McDonald – Hiringa, Nicolas Williams – Z Energy, and Anthony Jones – HW Richardson, gave me huge comfort in the wake of Hanover that those in key places here know where it’s at, and what’s important in the immediate future.

That awareness extended to the key worry for New Zealand in the medium term – being our old friend of late, the supply chain. The key theme there being once Europe gets its infrastructural act together, the demand for trucks from that quarter will be gargantuan. Most of Europe’s key operators have made the emotional shift, they’re now just waiting for trucks and charging/refuelling points. That sentiment is likely to be the same around the world. If there’s one place we are potentially lagging to a degree, it is making the emotional switch at the operator level. Diesel may not be going entirely just yet, but the sun is certainly setting on its relevance beyond niche applications in remote places.

Back then to last orders. One of the overarching messages from the OEMs at Hanover was the ‘offer’ to help you determine what it is you need in a world where one scalable propulsion methodology is no longer available. The days of sorting out the propulsive side of your own fleet replacement will soon go, especially in the first two, three, or four generations, and the calling card title ‘sales engineer’ will take on a whole new dimension. Suffice to say there’s challenge and opportunity at every stage.

But hey, we’ve been here before and maybe the greatest fear is fear itself. I mean, how many horses will one combustion engine actually replace?

Ia Ara Aoteroa Transporting New Zealand Conference 2022

I have to take a moment to congratulate the Transporting New Zealand team on a fantastic two-day conference. The quality of speakers related to the theme, and the practical take-home messages they delivered was first rate. Conferences should always invest the delegates with practical tools for their business, and an outlook on what’s just around the corner. This one scored exceptionally highly on each of those pillars.

All the best

Dave McCoid
Editorial Director