Keeping shelves stocked will be helped by electric trucks, peak bodies say.
The Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) have joined forces to call for urgent reforms.
Truckies and electric vehicle experts on Tuesday released an electrification road map for governments to improve fuel security and supply chains and cut freight costs and pollution.
They want a sales target for zero-emission trucks of 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040 to drive ambition and measure success or failure.
“Every government in Australia has committed to net-zero, but this can’t be achieved without decarbonising the transport sector,” head of the EVC Behyad Jafari said.
ATA chair David Smith says electric power will be a game-changer for the industry.
“It costs about $117 to fuel a diesel truck for 300 kilometres, but just $18 for an electric truck,” Mr Smith said.
“If Australia gets left behind on the transition to electric and zero-emission trucks, we risk our supply chains and exporters getting stuck with high, globally uncompetitive per kilometre freight costs.”
He said trucking operators face a number of barriers to buy and use an electric truck that can be overcome.
Key recommendations include exempting electric trucks from urban curfews because electric trucks are much quieter, changing Australian weight and width standards to accommodate electric models and no stamp duty for electric trucks.
An incentive payment would reduce the cost of installing charging infrastructure at depots and investment in public charging infrastructure would support drivers to charge vehicles during journeys.
The government backs consumer choice, and this includes the transport sector.
“We understand the importance of the trucking sector in keeping our economy moving,” a spokesman for Energy Minister Angus Taylor told AAP.
Heavy duty and long-distance vehicles are one of the four priority areas under the expanded $250 million Future Fuels Fund, which takes support of low and zero-emissions vehicles to around $2.1 billion.
“Our policy will enable heavy-duty fleet operators to choose the type of technology best for their business, without raising the costs of vehicles or imposing sneaky carbon taxes,” he said.
Australia lags most of the world in the electrification of trucks, and of the 58 electric truck models available in North America, Europe, and China only 14 are available to the Australian market.
The peak bodies are calling for subsidies 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 batteries, fuel cells and some hybrid systems.
The upfront purchase price of an electric truck can be double its diesel equivalent.
Mr Jafari says being able to power our supply chains with local electricity is another national sovereignty no-brainer.
“The AdBlue shortage crisis was a potent warning about our extreme fuel insecurity,” he said.
“Why should Australia be dependent on China and the Middle East to keep itself moving when we could be using homegrown power.”