Industry Issues

The Australian Reality of Carbon Zero

The Australian Reality of Carbon Zero

As is mentioned regularly, the Australian trucking industry is very different from most trucking industries around the world, with major differences when compared with elsewhere in the world, as this means there will be a different flavour to the Australian reality of carbon zero, in trucks.

Some solutions are going to be more effective here than they will be elsewhere, just because of the extremely long distances and heavy axle masses at which our trucks currently run. The introduction of low emission technology is very unlikely to actually change the need or the ability of operators to run like vehicles like quad road trains.

These kinds of trucks and trailers are still going to be necessary into the future and the truck and trailer manufacturers are going to need to be able to develop solutions which will work in very hot, dusty, high mass high speed conditions over long distances.

The trucking needs in remote areas are unique, but, in fact, most of our population live in large cities and there are five times more rigid trucks than articulated trucks on our roads. 70 per cent,(by some estimates 80 per cent) of these trucks operate in urban areas. Even for semis and B-doubles, 30 per cent of all kilometres traveled are in urban environments.

This suggests that the solutions which will be developed in places like China, and Europe will, in fact, work perfectly well in the Australian environment, within our urban areas.

This will mean that trucks designed for those markets will need to be imported into Australia to solve our issues. However, Australia does have barriers which mean some of these solutions may not be able to run on our roads.

The issue of vehicle width looks like it may become easier to overcome. Currently the ADRs specify a maximum width of 2.5m, as compared to 2.55m in Europe and 2.6m in North America. A campaign by TIC has gained concessions and zero emission trucks are going to be allowed, under some caveats, to run on Australian roads.

This is very important because the Australian truck market is too small for the truck manufacturers of the world to pay for the research and development and to design specific vehicles for our market. It is simply not economically viable, especially when you consider the massive dollars which are already being spent on development of these new technologies. These changes will flow through, but will take time to make any real difference.

“Australian trucks tend to stay on the road for nearly 30 years longer than in comparable markets,” says the TIC report. “The average age of rigid trucks in Australia is 16 years while articulated trucks are typically around 12 years old. This higher age profile contributes to a slower turnover of the national fleet.

“Approximately 56 per cent of trucks on the road today were manufactured before 2008, with rigid trucks over represented in this aged trucks category. Turnover rates are also also influenced by the composition of Australia’s trucking industry, which is skewed towards small fleets with localised operations, 92 per cent of road transport operators have fewer than five staff and 93 per cent have an annual turnover below $2 million. Just 0.5 per cent of Australia’s truck operators have more than 100 vehicles and around 70 per cent operate only one truck.”

This is the scope of this problem, small operators tend to keep their vehicles longer and are less able to keep up with all the latest modern technology. Whereas the large fleets will be able to make those changes, experiment with and develop their fleets at a faster rate than many of the smaller fleets.


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