This week we’re seeing the government talking about its plans to increase the take up of electric cars in Australia and its long term plans to continue to drive towards zero carbon emissions, but we are far from being prepared for what needs to be done.
The announcement was simply about light vehicles, and there was no mention of trucks in any part of it. Let’s hope that the reason that trucks did not get mentioned is because there is another committee, somewhere else, actually looking into this issue and developing a viable strategy going forward for the reduction of carbon emissions from trucks.
A target has been set by the government to be reached by 2030 with the eventual aim of becoming a zero carbon economy by 2050, but one of the things which statisticians are constantly reminding us about is that no matter how far off in the distance to target is, the only way to meet that target is to start a process now, to get the economy ready to meet that target.
Currently, there is no actual policy, or even a vague plan, to bring down carbon emissions for trucks. The trucking industry is wedded to the diesel engine and it is going to take a great deal of effort to wean us off of that technology onto other technologies which are clearly not as adaptable and are considerably more expensive. If the consumer is complaining about the high price of electric cars, just let them examine the pricing structure for electric trucks in the current environment.
The trucking industry needs some certainty from the government as to how they are going to create an environment in which it is viable for the trucking industry to move across from its current diesel technology to the alternatives, which will start to move us very slowly towards our carbon zero goals.
There are countless obstacles in the way of making progress on this front. Up front and centre is the much higher cost of buying an electric truck or a hydrogen powered truck. Then there’s the issue of charging or refuelling infrastructure for said trucks. On this topic, there is no plan in place
Even if there is a vast growth in charging infrastructure for cars, it is unlikely to be viable for the trucking industry, we are going to need specialist trucking truck charging stations in the future
There will also be a high demand for green hydrogen, which Australia could produce in vast quantities, due to the fact that we have plenty of sunlight and plenty of water in the oceans around us. However, there does not seem to be much progress or investment going into this area of concern.
Then we got this simple question of how differently a truck using a hydrogen fuel cell hydrogen, or battery electric will need to be built. At the moment, Australia has archaic axle weight laws, which will prohibit most of the zero emission vehicles which are being tested elsewhere in the world, from even being allowed onto our roads.
Every time there has been emissions rule changes in the past, it has been a fight for the truck manufacturers to get the government to change the regulations to increase the allowed axle weight on the front axle of our trucks
Whether we end up using single steering axles or twin steering axles, what needs to be done is to have a sensible maximum allowable axle weight on the front of our trucks in order to make fuel cell electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles both safe and viable on our roads.
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