Heavy electric trucks cleared to drive in another state

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson |

Electric trucks such as the Volvo FH will be allowed on some Queensland roads after changes.
Electric trucks such as the Volvo FH will be allowed on some Queensland roads after changes.

Electric trucks have been given the green light to haul freight in another state after the Queensland government announced it would allow heavier vehicles on some major routes. 

The announcement on Friday will make Queensland the fourth state to allow the low-emission vehicles on roads, in what is designed to be a staged rollout. 

The changes will clear truck manufacturer Volvo to start building heavy-duty electric trucks in Queensland from 2027 as it announced last year.

Queensland Transport Minister Bart Mellish announced the changes, saying the state had drawn up a Zero-Emission Heavy Vehicle Network Map outlining routes where electric trucks with a front-axle weight of up to eight tonnes would be allowed.

Transport Minister Bart Mellish
Transport Minister Bart Mellish says a map has been drawn up of where the trucks can travel. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

The route will stretch from the Gold Coast, along the NSW border, north to Bundaberg, and  west to Toowoomba and Warwick. 

“This announcement will put Queensland on the map as a leader in future electric truck manufacturing,” Mr Mellish said.

“As transport is one of the main contributors to Queensland’s emissions, zero-emission heavy vehicles can make a significant contribution to meeting Queensland’s targets to reduce emissions.”

Queensland government officials will gather evidence about the experience of electric trucks on the mapped roads before it is expanded to other routes. 

The changes will make Queensland the fourth state to allow heavy electric trucks on roads after the Victorian government approved electric trucks with a front axle weight of 7.5 tonnes on some roads in November last year and NSW and South Australia announced two and one-year trials of the transport technology. 

The federal government expanded limits on truck width in September last year, from 2.5m to 2.55m, accommodating many of the imported vehicles.

Volvo Group Australia president Martin Merrick said the changes in Queensland would not only allow its full fleet of electric trucks on roads for the first time but would let the company manufacture the vehicles locally and customise them to business requirements. 

“(We) have the green light to invest even further in Queensland manufacturing,” he said. 

“Last year I announced our intention to build battery electric trucks at our Wacol manufacturing facility (and) today I can confirm that intention can now be made reality.”

Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said swapping diesel for electric trucks could  make significant cuts to transport pollution.

“Decarbonising the heavy transport sector supports emissions reduction right across the economy, in everything from resources to agriculture,” he said. 

Research from logistics firm Adiona Tech last year found putting electric trucks on Australian roads could make a significant impact on emissions, with 10 electric delivery trucks having the same impact as 56 electric cars. 

The study found heavy, articulated trucks were responsible for 15 per cent of all transport emissions as they travelled six times further than passenger cars and used 40 times more fuel.

Australian companies to invest in electric trucks so far include Woolworths, which has committed to running 1000 delivery trucks by 2030, and Team Global Express that is trialling 60 electric trucks in Sydney.