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HVIA discusses the Grattan Truck Plan

The HVIA says the Grattan Truck Plan is controversial but has overlooked some easy recommendations to reduce air pollution

After the Grattan Institute’s new truck plan was released earlier this week and called on Melbourne and Sydney to ban pre-2003 diesel engines, the Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) has weighed in.

The HVIA says the report made controversial calls but missed out on easier opportunities to lower heavy vehicle emissions.

“That’s the frustration with reports like this getting a big burst in mainstream media,” HVIA national policy and government relations manager Greg Forbes says.

“While the report makes a reasonable number of sensible recommendations for reducing emissions from trucks, it ignores the most obvious mechanism for no regrets reductions in greenhouse emissions.

“There are two areas, in particular, that the report pays lip-service but nothing more: You can’t talk about mandating electric vehicles without first ensuring the system has grid capacity to support them. Secondly – the fastest way to reduce overall heavy vehicle emissions is by allowing high productivity combinations into more of the network.”

Forbes says the heavy vehicle industry fully supports policy efforts to update the aging fleet but says the report glosses over the obstacles to the uptake of new vehicles.

“If the infrastructure is in place and the business case works, operators have shown they are willing to buy these vehicles and manufacturers have also demonstrated a willingness to supply them,” Forbes says.

“One of the least useful suggestions in the Grattan Truck Plan is the suggestion that putting binding sales targets on truck manufacturers is a useful mechanism for increasing the uptake of electric heavy vehicles.

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“To set unrealistic and binding targets for the percentage of vehicles sold, without appropriate infrastructure available and viable business cases for these vehicles would be counterproductive.

Forbes also says the industry urgently needs to increase the proportion of Performance Based Standards (PBS) combinations in the fleet.

“The most effective way to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, is to ensure that every vehicle has been specified for the task that it is doing, and in a way that maximises capacity and payload for whatever application the vehicle is performing,” Forbes says.

“Increasing the proportion of the road freight task carried by PBS vehicles is the most obvious way of reducing emissions of all types but is barely referenced by the report.

Forbes says the Grattan Truck Report’s recommendations for low rolling resistance tyres ignores another obvious mechanism for minimising particulate matter emissions from tyres.

“The Grattan Truck Plan devotes a considerable amount of attention to mechanisms to foster the uptake of low rolling resistance and wider tyres,” Forbes says.

“Some of our counter-recommendations are barely rocket science, but that doesn’t excuse reports like this for not advocating for the easy wins.

“While HVIA support both wider tyres and lower rolling resistance tyres, it is clear that better management of tyre inflation is the most effective mechanism for improving fuel efficiency, road pavement wear and particulate emissions through tyres.”

Mr Forbes said the report’s recommendations on Euro VI and alignment with international dimension and mass standards are already being discussed by governments and industry.

“These are important issues and are currently being considered but the report glibly skips over some of the complexity of these issues,” Forbes says.

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