Volvo Wacol: ‘Hello, EV Trucks’ and ‘Goodbye, Diesel Trucks’ by 2040!

Volvo will be producing more EV trucks than diesel trucks at their Wacol manufacturing facility

Volvo will be producing more EV trucks than diesel trucks at their Wacol manufacturing facility as part of their commitment to be ‘fossil-fuel-free’ by 2040, and to support Australia’s efforts to keep up with the rest of the world in truck electrification.

Fossil-fuel-free Volvo trucks by 2040

In the last quarter of 2021, Volvo confirmed plans of manufacturing electric vehicle (EV) trucks at their Wacol facility. Volvo Trucks Global President, Roger Alm, said that the company is looking into having half of its new-truck output to be electric models by 2030 and by 2040, all of their new Volvo trucks won’t be using fossil fuels anymore.

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Although there is no definite timeline yet on when the last diesel truck will be replaced,  Mr Alm is confident of the facility’s longevity and capability to produce EV trucks should the appropriate time come. 

When asked about the range of the future EV trucks, Head of Product Management of Volvo Trucks Global, Jessica Sandström, said that the company is already introducing  EV truck models with a 300-km range. Given the rate of technology development, vehicles with a 500-km range could be the next step.

Volvo FL Electric
Volvo FL Electric | Photo credit: AB Volvo /

Ushering Australian trucking industry into the zero-carbon emission era

The Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) are pushing for urgent reforms that will help turn Australian trucking into a more competitive and fuel secured industry in the future through electrification.

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Only about a fourth of the 58 electric truck models currently available in North America, Europe, and China are available to the Australian market. This is why EVC and ATA believe that urgent reforms need to happen if Australia is to become at par with most of the world in terms of electrification of the trucking industry. 

 Electrification: “ending volatile diesel costs”
Electrification: “ending volatile diesel costs” | Photo Credit: ResoneTIC / Pixabay

In a joint statement announcing the policy recommendations, the two organisations said that electrification would “assist trucking businesses and supply chains by ending volatile diesel costs, reducing maintenance costs, improving urban efficiency, and delivering better conditions for truck drivers”.

“Every government in Australia has committed to net-zero, but this can’t be achieved without decarbonising the transport sector,” EVC CEO, Behyad Jafari, said.

“We need the government to read these recommendations and get moving fast. If we implement them swiftly the benefits to Australian trucking, our economy, and our environment will be truly massive.

“The AdBlue shortage crisis was a potent warning about our extreme fuel insecurity. Why should Australia be dependent on China and the Middle East to keep itself moving when we could be using homegrown power? Being able to power our supply chains with local electricity is surely a national sovereignty imperative.”

For his part, Australian Trucking Association Chair, David Smith, said that electrification will be a game-changer for the trucking industry. He added that supply chains and exporters are at risk of “getting stuck with high, globally uncompetitive per km freight costs” if Australia doesn’t act swiftly in transitioning to electric and zero-emission trucks.

But barriers need to be addressed to allow trucking operators to acquire and utilise electric trucks so they could benefit from lower freight costs, reduced vehicle emissions, and better fuel security.

Developing the policy agreement was made possible through a series of workshops participated in by 50 organisations including truck manufacturers, fleet operators, and charging infrastructure and electricity providers. The workshops helped identify the various challenges that these sectors face including fuel and maintenance costs, less than desirable urban efficiency, and other conditions that weigh down the industry.

 EV trucks
Photo credit: SEA Electric / Twitter

Australian electric truck manufacturer, SEA Electric, through its President Asia Pacific Region, Bill Gillespie, commended the organisations in developing the policy recommendations.

“Australian industry will need encouragement and leadership to create a viable pathway towards zero-emission truck acquisition, with further work required by all levels of government in showing leadership,” Mr Gillespie said.

“Given that the road freight sector accounts for 38 per cent of the country’s total transport emissions, it is SEA Electric’s view is that if Australia is planning to meet its 2050 net carbon emissions targets, then more broad-ranging government support will be required to ensure that companies can scale accordingly in an affordable manner.”

The key recommendations for the new AVC/ATA policy agreement:

  • Truck width should be increased to align with standards used by major supplier economies (current width standards precludes many electric truck models from being used in Australia)
  • One tonne concession for electric and zero-emission trucks (Australia’s steer axle mass limit, currently 6.5 tonnes, is holding back the deployment of larger electric truck models due to the weight of batteries)
  • Electric trucks to be exempt from urban curfews (electric trucks are much quieter and therefore do not require curfews)
  • Mandate Euro VI emissions standards for new heavy vehicle models from 2024 (this would bring standards into force 3.5 years earlier than proposed in the government’s draft Regulation Impact Statement)
  • Incentive payment to reduce the cost of installing charging infrastructure at depots
  • Investment in public charging infrastructure to support on route electric truck charging
  • Incentive payment to reduce the upfront purchase price difference between electric/zero-emission trucks and internal combustion engine trucks (In California and Germany incentives are provided to reduce or eliminate the price difference for battery, fuel cell and trolley hybrid drive systems. The upfront purchase price of an electric truck can be double its diesel equivalent)
  • Exempt electric and zero-emission trucks from stamp duty
  • Set sales targets for zero-emission trucks of 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040 (this goal is to drive ambition and measure the success or failure of existing incentives).