OPINION: quiet power to be the curfew solver

By: Brendan Richards

Electric drivetrains to overtake local truck restrictions in the post-Covid world

OPINION: quiet power to be the curfew solver
Brendan Richards


Over the last couple of years, truck curfews have operated throughout Australia.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of those curfews were lifted as governments and councils recognised the need to loosen up the supply chain to deal with the panic buying that had decimated supermarket shelves.

Trucking companies rejoiced because they had been pushing state governments and councils to drop curfews for years so their trucks could do more delivery runs and be more efficient.

But now coronavirus restrictions are being lifted, we can expect curfew restrictions to return. If anything, they may become worse because although noise abatement is the primary issue, one of the other major reasons action groups petition councils to have truck curfews is pollution.

The suspension of many heavy-polluting activities during the pandemic has shown us all just how quickly pollution can dissipate. That won’t have gone unnoticed and plenty of people won’t want to give it up. Trucks are always an easy target.

So, I’m guessing truck curfews are going to be back in force and they are going to be here to stay. What does the industry do about it?

With a large landmass and a relatively small population, Australians tend to do things on the cheap.

The upside of that is we are innovative, clever and able to keep mechanical things running much better and longer than anywhere else in the world. An example is how long we managed to keep our old Air Force fighter jets operational.

The downside is that we tend to have a lot of very old stuff on the roads. Our truck fleets are among the oldest in the world – double the age of European truck fleets, for example.

Most European trucks meet at least Euro 5 compliance standards, and many Euro 6, and that is estimated to produce 90 per cent less pollution than the older trucks that are common on Australian roads.

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If Australian industry wants these curfews to be eased, then we have to update the fleet and there is an obvious solution: electric drivetrains; silent and clean.

Last year, the first fully electric rubbish trucks in Australia hit the road in the City of Casey in Victoria.

They’re cleaner, cheaper and quieter than the diesel trucks they replaced. Even better, they were made in Australia.

These trucks use an Australian rubbish collection and compaction system and an Australian proprietary electric power-system. The battery lasts up to five hours before it has to be recharged and each truck will save approximately 180kg of carbon dioxide compared to its diesel competitor.

In a post-coronavirus world that is exactly what Australia is looking for – cleaner transport solutions built in Australia using Australian technology with an option to take it to the world.

Truck curfews have long been a thorn in the side of the Australian trucking industry, but it’s not an argument that industry can win unless we are prepared to adapt.

The Australian truck fleet needs to be updated regardless so why not update it, wherever possible, with electric trucks that negate the argument for truck curfews in the first place?

It may not be the solution for every kind of road transport requirement, but with electric trucks now able to get up to 400km out of a single charge, it is a viable solution for an awful lot of it.

That ‘miles to the tank’ equation is only going to get better over time and may get better a lot faster if Australian truck operators make a conscious, collective decision to head down the path of electric drivetrains.

Brendan Richards partner at KPMG Australia, Deal Advisory



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