Thinking about the future of the trucking industry is never easy, but, at the moment, we are at a point where hesitancy, misinformation and some difficult decisions are all at play. The decisions? I am not talking about vaccinations or Covid, the decision is around which way to go ahead in choosing technology in trucks over the next decade.
A couple of years ago thinking about zero emission solutions needed to keep the road transport industry going were purely theoretical. There were businesses talking up their different technologies and the way ahead for the trucks of the future.
Also, at the same time, there was also a lot of talk about truck platooning and autonomous trucks. Any talk you see or hear about these two topics is still mainly theoretical and clearly a long distance off for the trucking industry.
This is not the case with the push to radically reduce carbon emissions by the trucking industry. Many factors are at play here, not least the recognition by the corporate world that low or zero emission operations in the future are going to increase productivity overall.
Also, and despite our federal government’s ongoing reluctance to go down the zero carbon route, large numbers are beginning to head down that path, recognising the inevitability of the need to combat climate change.
This means road transport is facing a period of flux and substantial changes in the way it operates and has to think about its operations. This state of flux also introduces a degree of uncertainty, we are dealing with some unknowns, in an area of expertise where we are used to certainty.
This is going to be a steep learning curve for a lot of people, but things may not change very fast to begin with. However, when radical changes do take place, they are likely to come on us pretty swiftly, and we need to be ready for them.
In some ways, we are lucky. As the laggard on climate change, other countries are going though this process ahead of us and we can learn from their mistakes. On the other hand, Australia present some unique problems to someone trying to solve our road transport issues. Technology choices may be harder for us.
There are going to be tough decisions around those technology choices. This is still up in the air at the moment and the power source, and final power delivery are still very much at play, globally. No-one is quite sure which technology will be best for which task.
This is the kind of atmosphere in which the snake oil salespeople can appear and spread information which is not going to help us in the long run. None of the technologies are thoroughly well-proven, so it is easy to cast doubt over any technology which competes with your own.
However, while we need to be cautious about the path we follow to zero carbon, we also have to get moving along the path, so that when the proverbial finally hits the fan, we have a solution in place. Vaccination? It’s a personal choice. Zero emissions? Some difficult decisions will need to be made, and sooner than you think.