One of Australia’s leading trucking groups has called on the Morrison government to introduce new financial incentives to accelerate the uptake of electric trucks and buses, saying that without support uptake will continue to languish.
CEO of the Australian Trucking Association, Andrew McKellar, said governments need to be proactive in supporting the purchase of electric vehicles, particularly trucks, otherwise adoption will continue to be slow.
“New, low emission transport technologies will never become a reality if they are not viable commercial options for trucking operators,” McKellar said.
“[Zero and Low Emission Vehicle] trucks are almost non-existent on Australian roads. They won’t be commercially viable until they are deployed, tested and refined for Australian operations, and increase in scale to lower costs for businesses.”
The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is a key industry organisation for the trucking industry, representing around 50,000 businesses and 200,000 people, including truck manufacturers, logistics companies and small to large truck fleet operators.
In a submission to the Morrison government’s “future fuels strategy” (FFS), the association said called for the introduction of financial incentives for the purchase of electric trucks, similar to schemes that have been introduced in California.
“The Australian Government should implement a temporary Zero and Low Emission Truck Purchase Incentive, to encourage investment in early-stage ZLEV truck technologies and introduce these vehicles into the Australian market, to provide commercial choice to trucking operators for reducing emissions and to improve safety,” the submission says.
“The temporary purchase incentive should apply until ZLEV trucks make up 5 per cent of the heavy vehicle fleet.”
The association said that such a measure introduced in California last year had already supported the deployment of thousands of electric buses and trucks.
“[The Californian] scheme has already assisted more than 7,500 zero emission and other clean trucks and buses to enter the transport fleet,” McKellar said.
One key measure that governments could take, the ATA suggested, was to directly invest in the deployment of enabling infrastructure for zero emissions trucks, such as the installation of new hydrogen re-fuelling stations.
“Co-investment in hydrogen re-fuelling and electric charging stations by the Future Fuels Fund should incorporate heavy vehicle access, strategic planning of re-fuelling on transport routes, and consider co-location with existing truck driver rest facilities,” McKellar added.
“For early fleet adoption, private commercial ‘back to base’ sites should be eligible for investment.”
In its submission, the ATA challenged the conclusions of federal energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor, who cited questionable modelling included in a future fuels discussion paper to dismiss the use of upfront incentives for electric vehicles.
The ATA argued that Taylor’s use of simplistic and limited calculations of estimated abatement costs of electric vehicles did not tell the full picture.
“The ATA notes that the modelling did not consider heavy vehicles and that the reality remains that the cost differential of ZLEVs to conventional internal combustion engines (ICE) vehicles is a considerable impediment to early adoption by commercial freight operators,” the ATA’s submission says.
“Further, the case for incentivising newer vehicles and ZLEVs into the Australian fleet is broader than the cost of abatement. Incentivising new vehicles would have clear road safety benefits, as newer vehicles are fitted with the latest safety technologies and standards, such as the Government’s proposed new rules on advanced emergency braking (AEBS), which have not been assessed by the modelling.”
Australian transport regulations have already presented some barriers to the adoption of electric trucks in Australia, with Tesla telling the Heavy Vehicle National Law Review that under current regulations, the Tesla Semi electric trucks are too wide for Australian roads. Tesla has called for a change to the national road rules to allow the wider trucks to be sold in Australia.