EV policy presents opportunity for freight sector

The Federal Opposition’s commitment to work with industry on the development of cleaner transport solutions must include a focus on the clear enthusiasm of many in the freight logistics sector to deliver improved environmental outcomes, according to the Australian Logistics Council (ALC).

ALC CEO, Kirk Coningham, said that policy announced today by the Federal Opposition contains a number of measures that can help make the potential of Electric Vehicles (EVs) a reality, provided governments work closely with industry in helping deliver the right reforms.

“ALC is particularly encouraged by Labor’s plan to boost EV charging capacity in the national road network,” he said. “Overcoming ‘range anxiety’ is an essential part of delivering swifter EV uptake by freight logistics operators, and the commitment to work with COAG to promote national consistency in charging infrastructure is most welcome.

February this year, Infrastructure Australia identified the construction of a national EV fast-charging network as a ‘High Priority Initiative’ for Australia, highlighting the impetus for urgent government action.

Coningham has also welcomed policy that encourages investment in EV technology, especially the commitment to allow businesses to deduct 20 per cent of any new EV valued at more than $20,000, and the intention to use the Australian Investment Guarantee to incentivise the upgrade of heavy vehicles to incorporate modern technology that can help reduce emissions.

“The commitment to develop a Low Emission Transport Strategy is a responsible one, and will help ensure that all modes of transport are making a contribution to emissions reduction,” he said. “Industry must be a key partner in the development of that strategy.”

Coningham added that introducing vehicle emissions standards, similar to what the US operates, must be worked through carefully with industry if it is to be successful.

An apt example of what Coningham has alluded to in regards to government-industry collaboration: The status of the heavy duty truck and trailer greenhouse gas regulations (GHG2) in the US was the subject of debate due to a federal appeals court claim over regulation compliance concerns.

The GHG2 implementation was expected to occur January 2018. US-based Truck Trailer Manufacturer Association (TTMA) said that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reviewed its petitions for reconsideration of GHG2 for heavy duty trailers, agreeing that further rulemaking was needed.

TTMA said in a statement last year that most of its heavy duty trailers are custom-ordered, and the required lead time for scheduled production meant trailer manufacturers were quoting orders for 2018 delivery that would force customers to purchase equipment they did not want – equipment that would not produce any fuel efficiencies.

“Industry is willing to play its part in delivering better environmental outcomes for the community,” said Coningham. “And ALC would look to work with any future Labor government to ensure that such standards are introduced in an equitable fashion that does not impose an unsustainable financial burden on freight logistics operators.”