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Truck Council supports fuel alternatives

TIC supports all transport fuel options and says it understands why government will not fund natural gas refuelling infrastructure

By Gary Worrall | May 1, 2012

With truck manufacturers expressing disappointment at Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson’s decision not to fund natural gas refuelling infrastructure the Truck Industry Council (TIC) says it supports all transport fuel options.

While he says the Federal Government has an opportunity to fund all alternatives, TIC CEO Tony McMullan says he can understand the decision in light of the current budgetary pressures on the government.

“TIC believes the government has an opportunity before it to fund programs that support more efficient and effective trucks, employing a variety of technologies, including natural gas,” McMullan says.

While manufacturers say the federal Clean Energy Investment Corporation, with a $10 billion war chest to commercialise clean energy such as natural gas, can play a significant role in expanding the market for natural gas trucks, McMullan says there are other barriers to entry for operators that also need addressing.

“We know the capital cost of alternative fuel options is higher than that for conventional diesel vehicles, we need to remove that barrier to entry,” he says.

TIC’s strategy is to talk to government about funding cleaner and safer truck of all types, McMullan adds. The group has previously brought together members of all sides of politics and truck manufacturers to highlight advances in road transport technology.

Supporting McMullan is TIC’s Chief Technical Officer Simon Humphries, who says subsidies are needed on numerous vehicle technologies including hybrid drive options.

Humphries says while infrastructure is a key piece in the puzzle for widespread adoption of natural gas by transport operators, he believes a shorter amortisation period for alternative fuel options will have a greater impact.

“TIC’s position is to lobby government to provide funding that will reduce the capital cost of changing to alternative fuels such as natural gas,” he says.

While there is a gradual take-up of natural gas trucks by operators, it is currently by operators with their own refuelling points or by those close to existing commercial filling stations. Operators cite supply guarantees as a major hurdle to purchasing gas-powered vehicles.

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