At a Low Carbon Vehicle event in the UK, our presenters test drive a truck using diesel and hydrogen to power the engine, only one step from a zero emission combustion engine. The developers hope to get one on the road soon, which is fitted with a converted diesel engine using 100 per cent hydrogen for power.
If you need a translation, when they say lorry, they mean truck, just in case you were confused.
We also get a chat with an innovative entrepreneur from London who is running a fleet of 70 courier vans around the city using only electric power. He outlines some of the advantages and also some of the issues with going over to electric power and how we need to think about charging strategies.
The UK is clearly miles ahead of us in this regard. Carbon taxes and large corporations under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint has led to much more investment in alternatives to the diesel engine.
This kind of progress would be unthinkable here in Australia. We remain with our heads in the sand expecting ongoing development in diesel power into the foreseeable future. This is unlikely to happen.
Yes, the 15 or 16 litre diesel engine is going to be with us for a very long time. There is just no technology which can compete with it at high masses, over long distances and at high speeds. We can be certain the engine makers will keep developing new ones for some time yet.
What is not so certain is what will happen to the five to nine litre engines which predominate around our cities on trucks doing lots of shorter trips. At the rate electric, hydrogen and various other engines are being improved, they are likely to predominate in the new truck market relatively soon.
Then it will simply be a time period where diesel engine gradually fade out of the market as they are displaced by cleaner more efficient alternatives.