Industry leaders use Australian Heavy Vehicle Industry Week launch to call for urgent government action to address regulations holding back adoption of zero-emissions vehicles in Australia
Volvo Group Australia President, Martin Merrick, has called for all levels of government to form a taskforce to address regulatory barriers to the adoption of next-generation zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) in Australia.
Merrick, speaking at the launch of Australian Heavy Vehicle Industry Week (AHVIW) this week, says Volvo Trucks now has a full range of heavy-duty electric vehicles that it intends to launch in Australia this year, with a view to manufacturing these vehicles in Brisbane by 2027.
“However – let me be clear – these targets will not be met, unless we have all levels of government working together to change legislation that will allow these vehicles to operate here in Australia,” he adds.
Merrick says the lack of political decisiveness on the issue is hindering investment decisions, and needlessly shackling Australia’s economy.
“The stakes are too high to ignore this issue any longer,” he says.
“I call on all levels of government to create a taskforce to deal with this issue as a matter of urgency.
“This is not a Volvo problem; this is a zero-emissions future problem; this is an industry-wide problem.”
HVIA CEO Todd Hacking agrees, noting the heavy vehicle industry’s position on the regulatory changes needed to support ZEVs is clear, but needs urgent action by government and its policy and regulatory agencies.
“Current truck axle load limits are too low. If not addressed, they will completely strangle efforts to decarbonise the industry, preventing it from contributing to Australia’s mandated emissions reductions targets,” he says.
It is a position that is unilaterally supported by industry associations, manufacturers, and all suppliers to the road freight transport industry.
In its submission on the draft National Electric Vehicle Strategy in 2022, HVIA highlighted the need for a review of heavy vehicle steer axle mass limits.
“Allowing heavier electric and hydrogen trucks is vital in opening up access to new low and zero-emissions heavy vehicles,” HVIA’s National Policy and Government Relations Manager, Greg Forbes, said at the time.
Last week, HVIA’s Chief Technical Officer, Adam Ritzinger, detailed the technical need for steer axle mass limits review and proposed four practical actions that can be implemented by regulators right now.
“We are on a path to becoming the highest-emitting industry in Australia if nothing is done,” he says.
Ritzinger calls on road managers to urgently classify roads based on their current structural capacity, leading to the development of networks that can support the heavier axles of zero-emissions trucks.
“Australia has been ‘sweating the road asset’ for many years to meet productivity demands. It is time to refocus on the environmental demands and sweat the asset from that perspective,” he says.
“Australia has the capability and technology to resolve this problem and must urgently act to do so.”
Hacking echoes Volvo’s position with insights gained directly from other HVIA members.
“The heavy vehicle industry wants to transition the fleet to zero-emissions vehicles, and the technology is available right now,” he says.
“Australia has everything it needs to meet emissions reductions targets, creating more local jobs and investment in the process.
“The only missing piece is the regulatory framework to support us.
“HVIA urgently calls on government at all levels to accelerate truck axle mass regulatory reform,” Hacking adds.
“The ongoing contribution of the industry to Australia’s economy and emissions reduction targets is at stake.”