Working trucks and vans must be exempt from CO₂ mandates

Electric trucks promise zero tailpipe emissions making them a green option.

In February the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, the Hon Catherine King and the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the Hon Chris Bowen announced the release of the Australian government’s Light Vehicle Efficiency Standard Consultation Paper for new vehicles.

The Consultation Paper was developed jointly by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (DoIT). With DoIT taking the lead, as the regulation will be implemented as a motor vehicle directive.

The Truck Industry Council (TIC) and its members, the truck manufacturers, importers and distributors in Australia are committed to the Australian Government’s objective of reducing transport carbon emissions.

Collectively providing heavy vehicles today in Australia that provide the market with the latest technologically advanced low and zero emission truck models. In 2023, there were six truck manufacturers marketing models of low and zero emission vehicles in Australia.

In 2024 at least four more TIC members will roll out new low and zero emission truck and van models.

The transition to a low carbon road freight future in Australia has well and truly begun. While the intent of the government’s proposed Light Vehicle Efficiency

Standard is to improve the CO2 performance of light vehicles, with the Consultation Paper detail that all vehicles below 3.5t GVM will be captured by the Vehicle Efficiency Standard, the Paper also detailed that “some” vehicles between 3.5t and 4.5t GVM would also be captured.

This is the first time that light trucks and the heavy end of the van sector have been flagged as being in scope of such pending CO2 regulations.

However, the Consultation Paper details that it is not the government’s intent to capture “working trucks and vans” in the Vehicle Efficiency scheme.

In fact, the Paper lists the type of applications that would be excluded for vehicles above 3.5t GVM, this includes, freight/cargo trucks and vans, emergency services vehicles, military vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, agricultural vehicles, construction and mining vehicles, motorhomes, horse trucks and passenger busses/vans.

No doubt this is not an exhaustive list, with the potential for more “working truck and van” applications to be added. It is a well-known statement that ‘without trucks Australia stops’. Never was this more evident than during COVID.

The trucks sold by TIC members delivered our most basic needs; foodstuffs and medicine as examples, maintained refuse services and transported construction materials to keep essential building projects progressing, ensuring Australia’s economy did not falter and our high standard of living was maintained.

Our geography and decentralised population centres create a unique freight challenge, in which road transport plays the primary role. Excluding bulk commodities (example minerals, resources), road transport constitutes 80 per cent of Australian freight. Almost everything bought, or sold, in Australia has been on a truck at one time or another before it is in the hands of a consumer.

So, while noting the government’s ambition, it must be remembered that the truck sector provides an essential role/service to society and the economy and that a transition strategy to a low carbon future that is too ambitious will add expense to the road transport sector, increasing the cost of freight, fuel inflation and make our exported goods less competitive in the global marketplace.

In the short to mid-term, governments, federal, state and local, can actively assist the take-up of new low and zero emission trucks by removing Australian unique barriers such as restrictive vehicle dimension and mass regulations.

This will allow new globally designed low and zero emission trucks to operate efficiently on our road networks.

These measures and not Vehicle Efficiency Standards placed on trucks and vans, will better support the transition that is already underway to a sustainable road freight sector.

A transition that will see our ageing diesel truck fleet replaced with new, greener, safer and cleaner and trucks.

An outcome that will benefit Australia and all Australians.

Tony McMullan CEO,
Truck Industry Council

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