Australian businesses would save money if diesel-powered trucks were replaced by electric ones, according to a new report from the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).
The report was produced with the Electric Vehicle Council with input from around 50 truck manufacturers, fleet operators, charging infrastructure and electricity organisations.
It found electrifying Australia’s fleets of trucks would see transport costs and the cost of goods for consumers and businesses tumble, with wholesale trade, construction, retail, and agricultural industries to reap most of the flow-on benefits.
One of the top cost-saving opportunities was removing diesel from the equation, the report says, which accounts for 35% of long haul operators’ costs and 20% of short-haul operators’ costs.
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ATA Chairman David Smith says it’s nearly seven times cheaper to fuel an electric truck than a diesel one, with the average cost for a 300-kilometre journey being $117 for a diesel truck, and just $18 for an electric truck.
Maintenance costs would also decrease if Australia’s ageing fleet was electrified, the report continued, pointing out that the average lifespan of a truck in Australia is 10-15 years, compared to France (9.3 years), Germany (9.5 years) and the Netherlands (9.6 years).
An ageing truck is typically inefficient, guzzling more fuel and needing more maintenance, in addition to the damage wreaked on the environment and public health.
Interestingly, the report also suggested that trucking curfews — largely introduced to limit noise pollution in densely populated areas — could become less important with a quieter electric fleet.
That could lead to improved delivery efficiencies for business and a prompter experience for customers.
Conversely, Smith warned that if Australia is “left behind” on the energy transition, it would see costs skyrocket for business as supply chains and exporters would be stuck with high, globally uncompetitive per-kilometre freight costs.
The ATA is aiming to see 100% of new truck sales be electric by 2040.
But the report also found an uncertain policy environment was leaving businesses in doubt about transitioning to electric, as well as limited model availability, lack of charging infrastructure, limited consumer awareness, and restrictive Australian Design Rules.
Indeed Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association CEO Mark McKenzie says electric trucks are a medium-term opportunity which would be substantially slower than the growth of the electric vehicle industry.
McKenzie says the service station industry is already trialling recharging solutions that see a quicker charge time — but it isn’t exactly going off without a hitch.
“To date, these solutions have proven very costly due to the inability of the national grid to support vehicle chargers that draw high volumes of electricity from the grid quickly,” he says.
“Given that electric trucks will require significantly more energy than electric cars, there are currently very few real-world solutions that provide the opportunity to transfer the quantum of electricity needed in a time frame that suits the time-sensitive needs of the Australian freight industry.”