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Australia’s road rules hampering electric trucks

1 June 2023
Australia’s archaic road rules, and its unique weight restrictions on trucks, have emerged as a major stumbling block to moves to transform the country’s heavy duty truck fleet to fully electric.

Volvo Trucks – the world’s biggest maker of heavy-duty electric trucks, and Australia’s biggest vehicle manufacturer – wants to start selling its heavy-duty electric trucks now and to build them at its Wacol factory near Brisbane from 2027 – but says arbitrary weight limits stand in its way.

The weight rules – unique in the world – put a 6.5 tonnes limit on the front axle of the truck’s prime mover, ostensibly to protect Australian roads. Volvo says this makes it impossible to load enough batteries to where they are needed. They want it lifted to at least 7.5 tonnes.

And ironically, even an empty heavy duty electric truck, which normally weighs up to 44 tonnes when the trailer is fully loaded, would not be allowed on Australian roads under current rules.

Volvo has sold more than 5,000 electric trucks and is the first in the world to build heavy duty electric trucks at scale. It has brought in its first FH heavy duty electric truck to Australia, in time for the Brisbane Truck Show – the industry’s flagship event – but can only drive it on local council roads, and not the freeway, after getting special permission.

“This is the biggest transformation ever,” Roger Alm, the head of the Swedish truck maker said a launch event at Wacol on Wednesday. Volvo claims 50 per cent of the electric truck market in both Europe and the US, and has set a target of lifting electric trucks to half of its production by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040.

But – despite 18 months of talks, and agreement from other trucking companies and the industry’s main lobby group – there has been little or no movement on the weight limit problem, and it was not even mentioned in the National Electric Vehicle strategy released late last month by the federal government.

“The barrier we have right now is legislation,” the head of Volvo Group in Australia, Martin Merrick said. “If we don’t get legislation change, then we won’t meet these targets. Everyone feels it should be done, it is just taking time.”

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Source: thedriven

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