News

Five new case studies for the Green Truck Partnership website

The new batch covers a diverse mix of trials including aerodynamic equipment, alternative fuels and drivetrains, and company practices. They include:

  • An electric distribution van working in urban delivery, which required on average 77% less energy than a conventional van under similar conditions. Carbon emissions vary depending on electricity source, but range from a 24% saving (with grid electricity) to 100% saving (with GreenPower). Energy costs fall by 67% -77% under the same respective scenarios.
  • A trial of a vortex generator aerodynamic device in a semi-trailer application, which showed a fuel saving of up to 4% compared with similar trips taken when not using the device.
  • The same vortex generator fitted to an off-road quad trailer mining haul truck, which showed no fuel savings.  
  • A driver incentive scheme rewarding drivers for fuel efficient driving practices, which proved effective at generating fuel savings worth four times more than the incentives paid out to drivers.
  • A meta-study of alternative fuel options, intended to fill some of the information gaps in this area and put into context the fuel options already covered in existing GTP case studies.

These case studies will be added to the website in coming weeks, and will be easily accessed using the site’s filter/search function. Trials that were underway but not completed by July have been rolled over into the next program cycle.

Many trials already underway or planned for this year

A short summary of trials currently underway or being considered includes:

  • Driver alerts involving real-time feedback on driving technique to change behaviour (underway)
  • A hydraulic hybrid kerbside collection rubbish truck
  • Vortex generator aerodynamic device on tanker trailers (single trailer and B-Double): already underway, to support results of previous trials on curtain-sided and tipping trailers.
  • A rear-of-trailer aerodynamic device on five semi-trailers
  • Low rolling resistance tyres
  • Vehicle-to-infrastructure communications (e.g. driver notifications and traffic light phasing)
  • Light commercial vehicle van running on compressed natural gas (CNG)
  • New-generation CNG rubbish truck
  • Hydrogen injection system (already underway)
  • Oil additives to reduce maintenance and improve efficiency

With three of these trials already underway and another three well progressed in their planning, the outlook for case studies in this program cycle looks promising.

Additional trials are also being discussed with suppliers and could still be added to the program. We also welcome any suggestions from suppliers, fleets or others who have suggestions for trials, so get in touch with your ideas.  

Light commercial vehicles and buses now covered by the Green Truck Partnership

A recent change to the Charter of the Green Truck Partnership means that light commercial vehicles and buses are now included within the scope of coverage. 1 of the 5 case studies from the latest round already covers an electric light van. Future trials could include buses, vans and utilities. If you know of a worthwhile vehicle, fuel or technology you’d like to see tested, get in touch.

NSW Safety, Productivity & Environment Construction Transport Scheme (SPECTS)

Launched in May and starting on 1 July, the Safety, Productivity & Environment Construction Transport Scheme (SPECTS) will allow up to 20% more load to be carried by participating trucks operating across Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle. This could remove up to 1,000 truck trips from NSW roads each week (approximately a 17% reduction).

The voluntary scheme is designed to improve safety, environmental performance and productivity by reducing the number of trips carrying construction materials to NSW government construction projects. Eligible loads include bitumen, concrete, and the estimated 14 million tonnes of spoil from road projects next year.

 A number of rigid, articulated, and concrete agitator truck configurations are eligible for the program. The heaviest configuration is a 7 axle truck and dog, weighing up to 57.5 tonnes compared with a typical 50.5 tonne limit. All vehicles will have to meet a number of requirements, including

  • Performance Based Standards (PBS)
  • Minimum Euro 5 engine emissions compliance
  • A range of safety features
  • Enrolled and monitored in the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) in NSW
  • Equipped with On Board Mass (OBM) monitoring systems linked to the IAP in NSW

Productivity gains from less truck movements are estimated to translate to $100,000 per truck, per year. The heavier axle loads will be more than offset by reduced movements, resulting in a net reduction to wear and tear on local and major roads, as well as easing congestion.

The global race to ban the internal combustion engine

Late last year, a handful of countries and some states in the US and Canada, formed the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance. Founding members include Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, and the UK; with eight US states led by California also signing up, along with Quebec. One of their objectives is to accelerate the phase out of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles – including petrol, diesel, LPG and natural gas – and to replace them with zero emission electric or fuel cell cars, at the latest by 2050[1]

However, consensus is building in some member countries to bring this timing forward significantly. Earlier this year, the Dutch government proposed the idea of banning sales of ICE vehicles as early as 2025[2]; and in August the proposal made it through the Netherlands lower house of parliament[3]. Norway had similarly flagged 2025 as a target for eliminating ICE sales for all new light vehicles and buses, with news reports in June indicating the proposal had the backing of all four major political parties[4]&[5].  And in August a German official suggested a similar ban may be required by 2030 to meet climate goals.

[1] ZEV Alliance 2015, International ZEV Alliance Announcement, press release 3 Dec 2015, http://www.zevalliance.org/content/cop21-2050-announcement

[2] Electrek 2016, Dutch government is discussing the possibility to only allow electric vehicle sales starting in 2025, https://electrek.co/2016/03/31/netherlands-ev-sales-2025/

[3] The Irish Times, Dutch move to ban sale of combustion engines from 2025, 16 August 2016, http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/motors/dutch-move-to-ban-sale-of-combustion-engines-from-2025-1.2757955

[4] EcoWatch 2016, Will Norway ban sales of gas-powered cars by 2025?, 6 June 2016, http://www.ecowatch.com/will-norway-ban-sales-of-gas-powered-cars-by-2025-1891164280.html

[5] Fortune 2016, Norway moves towards banning gas-burning cars by 2025,  4 June 2016, http://fortune.com/2016/06/04/norway-banning-gas-cars-2025/

France, Belgium and Switzerland are also reportedly considering bans on ICE sales, with 2030 the target date[1]. Paris has already announced plans to ban older diesel-powered vehicles due to severe air pollution concerns, with a potential ban on all diesel vehicles new or old within a few short years.

Separate to the ZEV Alliance, officials in India (likely to be one of the biggest future vehicle markets) have also flagged their intention to phase-out ICE vehicles by 2030 in partnership with vehicle manufacturers[2], and assisted by a novel financing arrangement requiring no upfront costs.[3]

Is this the beginning of the end for the ICE? The sheer number of countries and states considering such drastic measures suggests that it may well be a turning point – at least in the case of passenger cars. Even if the timeframes proposed are not entirely realistic based on current availability of EVs, these commitments and announcements clearly indicate the future policy direction of some European governments, and hint at their frustration with slow progress in reducing transport emissions to date. Importantly, this approach would address the dual challenges of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from private transport, which have been growing over the last decade unlike emissions from other sectors.   

However, it is probably much too early to think that IC engines will soon disappear, if for no other reason than the lack of a suitable and viable alternatives in commercial vehicles (especially regional and long-distance trucks). The IEA and many vehicle manufacturers don’t see a full market shift away from ICE until 2050 at least.

Whatever happens overseas, the very slow adoption of alternative fuels and drivetrains in Australia (see news stories) suggests that any such shift away from ICE vehicles will be much slower here.     

[1] https://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/several-european-countries-to-follow-norways-lead-ban-fuel-powered-cars/

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-pope/the-internal-combustion-e_b_10928278.html

[3] https://electrek.co/2016/03/28/india-electric-cars-2030/

Electric Vehicles report estimates e-buses could be cheaper than ICEs

Zero Carbon Australia’s Electric Vehicles Report is the latest in a series investigating a transition to a zero carbon economy in Australia. The report attempts to model the economic impact of a full transition to electric vehicles for road-based passenger transport by 2025 (within 10 years). The primary focus of the report was on passenger vehicles, however it also covered the urban bus fleet.

The report used two scenarios of EV adoption:

  • a “high (ev) cost scenario” involving low liquid fuel prices, and high cost for an e-bus;
  • and a “low cost scenario” (high diesel price, low e-bus cost).

In the most conservative “high cost” scenario, a full shift to EV cars by 2025 would cost around 25% more if counting all fuel/maintenance costs to 2035 – and about the same as business-as-usual ICE cars under the more optimistic low cost scenario.

[1] https://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/several-european-countries-to-follow-norways-lead-ban-fuel-powered-cars/

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-pope/the-internal-combustion-e_b_10928278.html

[1] https://electrek.co/2016/03/28/india-electric-cars-2030/

Results for the adoption of electric buses were even more striking. The high cost scenario indicated a full shift to e-buses by 2025 could be around 10% more costly than business-as-usual ICEs, which equates to an increase of $0.72 per capita per week. But under the low cost scenario (assuming high ICE fuel prices and low EV maintenance and battery costs) a shift to electric buses would cost 30% less than continuing with ICE buses.

This report is even more ambitious than the ZEV Alliance reported above, as it assumes a full replacement of the car fleet (and urban buses) with electric vehicles within the next 10 years. It is not clear how this could be achieved with the current limited availability of electric vehicles in Australia. Many vehicle categories do not currently have a fully electric option. And for comparison, countries that have set the most aggressive targets for electric cars to date (Norway and Netherlands) have more electric models available, and they only plan to begin their new sales ban or transition in 2025 (not to have completed it). Considering that the average age of passenger cars in the Australian fleet is currently around 10 years[1] (and more than 11 for buses), achieving this ambition would not only require the early retirement of thousands of current ICE vehicles, but also for every new vehicle sale from today to be electric. 

Nevertheless, as a hypothetical exercise looking at the costs for such a switch, the results are interesting.

[1] ABS 2016, Motor Vehicle Census, Australia 31 Jan 2016, Cat. No. 9309.0

EU progresses plan to introduce CP2 standards for trucks

Europe’s first steps toward CO2 (or fuel efficiency) standards for heavy vehicles was officially outlined in A European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility, released by the European Commission in July. The Commission is speeding up work on the design of CO2 standards and is launching a public consultation phase, noting the missed opportunity for reducing fleet running costs and the flow-on to consumers and passengers.

Their post-2020 strategy for trucks, buses and coaches, will initially involve two measures:

  • certification of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption (for heavy vehicle engines).
  • monitoring and reporting this certified data.

These proposals are designed to increase transparency and will also facilitate differential road user charging.

“Euro” limits on regulated emissions, such as PM and NOx, have been so effective they have been adopted in other countries including Australia. However, the EU has not yet set limits for truck greenhouse gases, which account for around a quarter of European road transport CO2 emissions.

The United States first introduced heavy duty vehicle CO2 standards in 2014, with the second phase to commence in 2018. The scheme is estimated to reduce fuel consumption by up to 33%  compared with 2010 levels. Canada, Japan, and China have all since introduced standards for heavy vehicles.

Last year saw several EU countries urge the Commission to take similar action, and in June 2016 the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) published an article on the EU’s “leadership void” on heavy duty vehicle CO2 standards.

The industry association representing European truck manufactures (ACEA) has responded to the report, noting their collaborative work in developing a computer simulation tool (VECTO). This tool is designed to model CO2 emissions from a wide variety of complete truck and trailer configurations, and will be rolled out in 2018.

What does this mean for Australia? With one of the oldest truck fleets in the OECD, and a low level of adoption for many fuel-saving technologies (from aero to tyres and alternative fuels and drivetrains), the opportunity to enhance fuel efficiency appears very strong. However, being a market that relies mostly on overseas technology developments in this area, Australia will likely have to wait to benefit from standards being developed overseas before it can consider developing its own.

[1] ABS 2016, Motor Vehicle Census, Australia 31 Jan 2016, Cat. No. 9309.0 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/

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