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ATA demands dimension reform to enable modern trucks

Width and mass limits restrict newer, cleaner vehicle tech: McKellar


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has taken aim at local truck dimension restrictions, saying the current rules prohibit the latest vehicle technology to enter Australian shores and must be overhauled.

The call comes as the ATA releases a submission on heavy vehicle emission standards, Heavy vehicle emission standards for cleaner air – Euro VI draft regulation impact statement, to the Department Of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC).

The submission recommends increased width and mass for diesel trucks that meet the Euro 6 emission standard or equivalent, as well as electric and hydrogen trucks.

“Australian trucks have a width of 2.5 metres, with extra allowances for equipment such as tautliner curtain buckles, lights and removable load restraint equipment,” ATA CEO Andrew McKellar says.

“In contrast, trucks in Europe are generally 2.55 metres wide and trucks in the US are 2.6 metres wide.

“Electric and hydrogen trucks developed overseas will need to be redesigned for the Australian market to meet our dimension rules.

“This will slow the rollout of zero emission trucks in Australia.”

How Austroads’ truck width advice played out in the past, here

McKellar says an increase in vehicle mass was also needed to encourage the purchase of newer, greener vehicles.  

“Euro VI, battery electric and hydrogen trucks are heavier, which reduces the amount of freight they can carry and their commercial viability,” he says. 

“There needs to be an extra 500kg axle mass allowance for single steer trucks and an extra 1000kg for twin steer trucks,” he says.

McKellar says zero-emission trucks were a reality and needed the right policy settings to increase their uptake in Australia.

“We are getting to the stage now where international vehicle manufacturers are bringing electric vehicles to the market.

“To support this, government must ensure vehicle standards regulations are flexible enough to allow that to happen.”

The Euro series of standards regulate the emission of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulates by on-road heavy diesel vehicles.

All new trucks sold in Australia must, as a minimum, meet the Euro V standard or the equivalent US/Japanese standards.

McKellar says the Government’s proposal to mandate Euro 6 or the equivalent US/Japanese standards should be brought forward to January 1, 2024 for new truck models and January 1, 2025 for new trucks generally. 

The Government’s current proposal is to mandate Euro 6 or its equivalents for new truck models from July 1, 2027 and for new trucks from July 1, 2028.

“After extensive consultation with our members, the ATA considers that we can now mandate Euro 6 and its equivalent standards earlier than originally planned, but the mass and width changes must come into force well in advance of January 1, 2024,” he says.

The ATA’s full list of recommendations are:

  • The Australian Government should mandate Euro VI emissions standards at Stage C and equivalent US and Japan standards for new heavy vehicle models from 1 January 2024 and all new heavy vehicles from 1 January 2025, conditional on offsets to mitigate the cost to industry
  • The Australian Government should not proceed with the proposal to mandate stage D of Euro VI emission standards for heavy vehicles
  • The Australian Government should maintain all heavy vehicle categories on the same introduction timeline for implementing Euro VI emission standards
  • The Australian Government should ensure that the final regulatory impact statement for mandating Euro VI emission standards for heavy vehicles complies with the Guide to Regulatory Impact Analysis, and actively include offsets for the additional proposed regulatory cost burden on industry
  • The Australian, state and territory governments should deliver vehicle standard offsets for Euro VI heavy vehicles, including an additional 500kg axle mass for steer trucks, an additional 1000kg axle mass for twin steer trucks and increasing heavy vehicle width
  • The Australian Government should ensure that the vehicle standard offsets for Euro VI heavy vehicles are delivered well in advance of the implementation of Euro VI as a mandatory standard
  • The Australian Government should extend the vehicle standard offsets delivered for Euro VI heavy vehicles to hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric heavy vehicles
  • The Australian Government should implement Japan pPNLT-2017 and USA EPA 2013 as equivalent international standards to Euro VI Stage C
  • The Australian Government should, in conjunction with states and territories, initiate reform to regulate off-road engine emissions.

It has been noted recently that, by current standards, a Tesla Semi truck would not fit the current criteria and the maker has made a submission to the National Transport Commission’s Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review, on the matter it’s been noted.

“The Commission will be aware that given Australia’s small size in comparison to global markets, inconsistencies like this between Australian regulations and larger markets will delay or preclude vehicles coming to local markets. Currently, Australia will likely miss out on the first generation of electric heavy vehicles such as the Tesla Semi because of this,” Tesla noted.

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