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Australia falling behind on zero emission trucks

02 July 2021

A new analysis from the Australian Trucking Association has revealed that Australia’s out of date truck width rules are restricting the availability of zero emission trucks on the Australian market.

“While many trucking operators are eager to embrace safer, zero or low emission vehicles, they simply can’t because the Australian rules prevent trucks built to European or US widths from being used on our roads,” ATA CEO Andrew McKellar said.

In its submission on the Australian Government’s Safer freight vehicles discussion paper, the ATA called on the Government to adopt 2.6 metre truck and trailer widths, to enable new zero emission trucks to enter the Australian market from the United States and Europe.

“New analysis by the ATA shows that in Europe there are more than three times the number of zero emission truck models on the market than we have in Australia. In the United States, it is more than five times,” Mr McKellar said.

“The Government discussion paper identifies trucks based on EU or US market designs (including those made in Australia) make up around 60 per cent of new heavy trucks, and the cost of redesigning these trucks is already estimated at up to $30 million per year.

“The paper also identifies that likely future changes, including electric and hydrogen systems, will be increasingly difficult or not economical to adapt to Australia’s 2.5 metre truck widths,” he said.

The ATA submission highlights that Australian trucking operators need early market access to both battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks, and that zero emission trucks need to be deployed at scale to reduce costs and ensure commercially viable options exist for reducing transport emissions.

“The United States has the greatest supply of zero emission truck models, made possible by zero emission truck purchase incentives for operators and a better truck width standard. These incentives and standards should be embraced here in Australia,” Mr McKellar said.

“Moving at the same time to a 2.6 metre width for trailers would deliver clear benefits for refrigerated operations, roll stability and work health and safety,” he said.

Mr McKellar said the ATA welcomed the safety package proposed in the discussion paper, which would mandate extra safety technologies for wider vehicles.

“These technologies would improve driver vision and include lane departure warning and side underrun protection for vulnerable road users,” he said.

The Government discussion paper considers options for increasing truck and trailer widths from 2.5 metres to either 2.55 metres or 2.6 metres. In the United States, the standard width is 2.6 metres. In Europe, it is 2.55 metres with 2.6 metres for refrigerated trucks.

The ATA submission recommends that Australian trucks and trailers should allowed to be 2.6 metres wide, provided they meet the requirements of the proposed safety package.

View the submission