The Volvo Group Australia factory in Brisbane will begin producing all-electric trucks in 2027.
In preparation, the Queensland state government has issued permits for two battery-electric Volvo heavy trucks to undergo local trials as the models in question exceed Australia’s 2.5-metre width restriction by 2.5cm.
Although it may be possible for locally-built electric Volvo trucks to limbo under the width regulation, the largest of the two trial trucks – a three-axle prime mover – has a massive battery pack that will also likely necessitate a relaxation of the current 6.5-tonne steer axle mass limit.
Volvo’s Wacol production facility in Queensland is Australia’s largest remaining vehicle production plant and while local width and weight restrictions provide a degree of protectionism against imports they may become a limiting factor to the adoption of new technologies.
In its submission to the Australian federal government’s national EV strategy consultation paper, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) called for both truck and trailer width restrictions to be increased as the current 2.5-metre limit is “out of step with international markets”.
As well as “access to the latest international technology and zero-emission vehicles” and “reducing the cost of redesigning European and North American trucks for the Australian market”, the ATA pointed out that increasing the maximum width would benefit refrigerated vehicle efficiency, roll stability and other safety factors.
“It is vital that new width rules are applied to both trucks and trailers. Leaving trailers out of the reform would undercut the improvements to productivity,” said the ATA submission.
“With zero emission truck technology still being developed and deployed, it is highly likely that further amendments to ADRs (Australian Design Rules) may be needed. The development of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, for example, will be critical to determining how this new technology is integrated into vehicle design and the potential impacts on productivity.”
In terms of electric trucks that already meet Australian Design Rules, Volvo Trucks Australia has just delivered the first 6×2 FE Electric customer truck to the Australian arm of global logistics firm Geodis.
It will be used to transport parts from Geodis headquarters in Matraville NSW to Volvo Group Australia’s parts distribution centre in Minto NSW.
Energy requirements for this 47km route have been calculated at 69kWh and the truck supplied is fitted with four batteries with a combined capacity of 266kWh to provide up to 220km of range on a full charge.
Volvo says that by “opportunity charging” while the truck is loading and unloading, it will provide more than enough range for daily duties and can be charged from empty to 100 per cent in just over three hours using a 50kW charger.
The FE Electric has a seven-tonne payload, shifted by its 225kW/850Nm dual-motor electric driveline with two-speed automated transmission.