During a recent tour of the Volvo Group Australia (VGA) production facility in Wacol, Queensland, the Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said the Government was right behind the development of trucks powered by clean and renewable sources such as battery electric (EV) and hydrogen fuel cell.
Minister Andrews toured the facility with the Prime Minister and saw first-hand various stages in the assembly of Volvo and Mack trucks on the production line.
They also saw – and the Prime Minister had a short drive of – the first Volvo FL Electric truck in Australia, which is set to enter service on a trial basis with Linfox in April.
“We are very supportive of the development of electric vehicles here in Australia,” said Andrews.
“From a trucking point of view, due to the vast distances travelled, there are some specific issues but they are just challenges for us to overcome – which I see as opportunities rather than impediments.”
Andrews said while the Government’s electric vehicle strategy falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, she has a particular interest in the EV sphere from a manufacturing standpoint.
“Clearly many Australians are looking to transition to EVs, so where we can do that in a freight environment – that is something that we are certainly very, very supportive of,” she said.
Andrews said the Government was not considering any incentives to encourage the uptake of EVs from a manufacturing perspective at this stage.
“Of course, with any program you need to look at ways to maximise uptake, but I think there is already a willingness by Australians to look at the alternatives, and from a truck point of view we know there are a number of businesses that are actively looking at how they can source such vehicles – the willingness to do that is already there.”
As for the role Australian truck manufacturing, as typified by VGA, can play in the rollout of EVs, Andrews said it was of paramount importance.
“The VGA establishment here at Wacol produces over 3,000 vehicles per year, holds a very solid share of the Australian truck market and is actively looking at its EV strategy,” she said.
“This gives the company the ability to lead in this area of expertise, particularly given its manufacturing capabilities right here in Queensland – it’s a golden opportunity to be at the front line.
“I would like to see a move towards all types of electric vehicles – I think the time is right for this to happen.
“We do have a strong automotive sector here in Australia and what companies like VGA have been able to demonstrate very well is that there is a strong market for vehicles that are manufactured here in Australia.
“It is an opportunity for the company to be at the forefront of electric truck development in this country.”