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ATA calls for zero emission truck purchase incentive

Temporary measure advised in Future Fuels Strategy submission


A temporary zero-emission truck purchase incentive is crucial nationally if low and zero emission transport technologies are ever going to become a reality, according to the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).  

The call came on the release of the ATA’s submission to the federal government’s Future Fuels Strategy – the discussion paper of which sets out the government’s direction and practical actions to enable the commercial roll out of low emissions road transport technologies. 

“New, low emission transport technologies will never become a reality if they are not viable commercial options for trucking operators,” ATA CEO Andrew McKellar says.  

“There must be a strong focus on the roll out of these technologies, with targeted government investment and clear action on how to remove the barriers that are preventing industry from adopting them.”  

To bring down these barriers, the ATA submission calls on the federal government to implement a temporary Zero and Low Emission Vehicle (ZLEV) truck purchase incentive until such vehicles make up five per cent of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet.  

“ZLEV 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,” McKellar says.  

“A temporary incentive would remove these barriers and allow market choice about the best way to move goods, reduce emissions and grow the Australian economy.”  

The ATA submission highlights an example of a successful incentive system in California, in which trucking businesses can access US$120,000 ($A157,480) incentives for the purchase of zero emission prime movers. 

“This scheme has already assisted more than 7,500 zero emission and other clean trucks and buses to enter the transport fleet,” McKellar says. 

The ATA submission also recommended the ZLEV strategy address vehicle design rules to implement additional mass and width for zero emission and cleaner trucks, as well as extending investment in hydrogen refuelling stations.  

“Co-investment in hydrogen refuelling and electric charging stations by the Future Fuels Fund should incorporate heavy vehicle access, strategic planning of refuelling on transport routes, and consider co-location with existing truck driver rest facilities,” McKellar says.  

“For early fleet adoption, private commercial ‘back to base’ sites should be eligible for investment. 

“Refuelling for long-haul transport routes must also recognise that truck drivers need access to quality rest facilities with food, drink, showers and toilets. Refuelling stations will need to be co-located with the services and rest areas that truck drivers need to use.”

McKellar adds that adopting the ATA’s recommendations would support the government’s commitment to the $24.5 million Freight Energy Productivity Program. 

“The ATA welcomes this commitment, which will provide competitive grants to support trucking businesses to invest in efficiency improvement for diesel vehicle fleets, vehicle modifications, or new vehicle technologies,” he says.

Read about the ATA’s position on truck dimension reform, here

The Future Fuels Strategy: Discussion Paper has a section entitles ‘Early focus on commercial fleets’.

The discussion paper points to complexity hindering an easy path for truck fleets.

“Medium and heavy commercial vehicle fleets have different operating requirements, and as a result, they have different expected trajectories for technology uptake,” it states.

It notes that the King Review on low-cost emissions abatement identifies transport as one of the sectors with untapped potential for reducing emissions.

That review observes that, to date, the Emissions Reduction Fund has had limited success in incentivising emissions reductions in the sector.

The reasons include:

  • The complexity of abatement activities and lack of simple, accessible information
  • Split incentives, such as freight clients paying fuel costs
  • Difficulties demonstrating that abatement is additional (beyond business as usual).

“The Government is working to increase participation in the Emissions Reduction Fund by speeding up the development of methods and reducing the costs of participation,” the discussion paper says.

“Previous road freight programs and studies have identified several challenges to improving energy efficiency in the sector.

“This includes limited reliable information on the impacts of energy productivity measures.

“Many small-medium road freight operators often lack the time and resources to build sufficient knowledge and experience on energy efficiency improvements to confidently make informed decisions.”

It views sustainable biofuels – offering the avoidance of additional purchase depreciation and insurance costs of new vehicle technologies – as challenged on price.

“In the medium to longer term, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles could be used for long-distance freight due to advantages in range, weight and refuelling times compared to battery electric vehicles,” it says.

The discussion paper states that the Future Fuels Strategy takes a ‘fleets first’ approach to help fast track battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

“The Future Fuels Fund will help businesses overcome barriers to incorporating new vehicle technology into their fleets,” it adds.

“The $24.5 million Freight Energy Productivity Program [FEPP] will focus on increasing the energy productivity of heavy road freight businesses using existing liquid fuels and future fuels. Feedback on this paper will inform the rollout of the Fund and the Program.”

The FEPP would help heavy road freight businesses assess and evaluate the benefits of new technologies.

These may include:

  • Aerodynamic aids for trucks
  • New engine technologies, such as hybrid or electric drivetrains
  • Alternative fuels
  • Telematics systems that aid more efficient driving and reduce fuel consumption.

The competitive grants program can support efficiency improvements for diesel vehicle fleets as well as vehicle modifications or new vehicle technologies.

The FEPP also aims to trial more efficient heavy duty vehicle technologies and publicise the results.

This will give businesses the evidence-base they need to justify investing in more energy efficient heavy-duty vehicle fleet technologies and vehicles.

“Testing could also verify the efficiency, performance and emissions impacts of biodiesel blends in conventional or hybrid trucks and evaluate maintenance concerns.

FEPP consultation is to begin this year, with the first trial grants expected to start in the second half of the year through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The discussion paper can be found here.

The ATA submission can be found here


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