Down Under Trucking: Electric truck revolution gets underway in Australia

Down Under Trucking is a weekly roundup of trucking events in Australia. This week: Electric truck revolution gets underway in Australia; expansion work begins on new distribution center in Far North Queensland; heavy trucking regulator finds high compliance rates with fatigue regulations; and momentum builds against container terminal truck charges.

Electric trucking revolution gets underway in Australia

The electric trucking revolution is getting underway with several large companies carrying out trials of electric trucks.

Logistics giant Toll has reportedly deployed the all-electric Fuso eCanter at its Bungarribee distribution site in Sydney. Toll is said to be running a trial to better understand the operation of the vehicle. The truck also allegedly delivers savings of about 16 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

The Fuso eCanter, manufactured by Daimler trucks, is a fully electric light-duty truck with an output of 185 kilowatts. It has a weight rating of GVWR/GCWR 15,995 pounds and an estimated maximum body/payload of 9,380 pounds. It has a top speed of about 80 kilometers an hour (49.7 mph) and can drive up to 100 km (62 miles) on a single charge.

This is not Toll’s first experience with the Fuso eCanter.

In April, Toll introduced two Fuso eCanters to its fleet in Japan, which, according to Toll, were introduced because of its partnership with Daimler and incentives on offer in Japan. Interestingly, Peter Stokes, then president of Toll Group Operational Services, also said that there had been successful trials in Australia five years ago.

“We are always looking at ways to drive efficiency across our operations and deliver add-value to our stakeholders. We’ve long identified electrification as an opportunity for Toll, following successful trials in Australia five years ago. Whilst electric vehicles can easily be integrated into our operations and handle freight effectively with positive feedback from our drivers, the main hurdle to date has been the economic case for them.”

Meanwhile, Brisbane, Queensland-based transport and trucking operator All Purpose Transport, which operates a mixed fleet of heavy-duty, light-duty and rigid-body trucks, put its first electric truck into operation a few days ago.

The truck appears to be a light- to medium-duty cabover rigid-body truck that will be deployed by All Purpose Transport in its IKEA operation. The truck is reported to have a four-hour charging time and a 250-kilometer range with a 3.5-tonne payload. It is reported that the truck will deliver up to 20 orders a day.

About 10 to 12 weeks ago, the national postal service operator Australia Post announced that it would be trialing the Fuso eCanter for use in the Sydney central business district. If the Australia Post trial is successful, the Fuso eCanter will become part of the Australia Post fleet.

“We currently have over 2,200 electric vehicles on the road around Australia with an additional 1,000 on order, making us the nation’s largest electric vehicle fleet operator,” said Australia Post general manager for transport and aviation James Dixon.

Back in February, Australia Post ordered 1,000 last-mile electric delivery trikes for the delivery of post and parcels. Australia Post plans to add a further 4,000 electric push bikes over the next three years, bringing its total to 5,980.

And, as previously reported on FreightWaves’ Down Under Trucking, Cleanaway, a waste management company that also operates more than 4,000 heavy trucks around the country, is carrying out a trial of an electric garbage truck in the western Australian city of Perth.

New distribution center in the Far North

Major Australian supermarket chain Woolworths has begun an A$12 million ($8.3 million) expansion of its Townsville Regional Distribution center.

When the expansion is completed, the footprint of the distribution center will be more than 10,000 square meters. Woolworths says it will be the largest food and grocery distribution center in the northern part of Queensland.

“It will not only allow for more frequent, faster and fresher deliveries to local stores year-round, but also help build much-needed resilience in our North Queensland supply chain network in the event of natural disasters. We’re more than doubling our footprint at this distribution center, which means we can hold many more essential items locally in the event of flooding or cyclone,” said Paul Graham, Woolworths chief supply chain officer.

According to Woolworths, up to 340,000 cartons a week will move through the distribution center.

Heavy vehicle regulator says truckers are complying with fatigue laws

Operation Wake Up, an inspection campaign led by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, found a truck driver compliance rate of 93.9% with the fatigue regulations.

The operation intercepted 4,096 drivers over eight days this month at more than 80 locations.

“I’m encouraged to see that the compliance rate has increased from the 93% recorded during a similar operation in May and that the vast majority of drivers are doing the right thing; however, we will continue to target those who are breaking the law,” said NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto.

The inspection revealed that the most common offenses were exceeding driving hours, not making entries in the work diary and insufficient rest.

Truckers can be fined up to A$674 for a breach of work and rest hours.

Momentum builds against container terminal truck charges

Container terminal operators at Port Botany in Sydney have been warned by the state minister for transport and roads against “slapping higher port surcharges on transport operators and exporters who are battling crippling drought in [New South Wales].”

Transport Minister Andrew Constance warned container terminal operators that it would be “completely unacceptable” to increase their infrastructure levies anytime soon.

“Key stakeholders have raised concerns about the impact of increasing port charges in NSW that have potential to drive up the cost of everyday goods, as well as impacting the state’s economy and competitiveness of our exports. They have also raised concerns around the frequency and lack of justification for these increased charges passed on by stevedores,” he said.

Constance has referred the issue to the NSW productivity commissioner to investigate the impact on the supply chain.

Meanwhile, in the southern state of Victoria, the local transport association has condemned stevedore infrastructure charges as being more than “40 times higher than they were in 2016 …  to the inevitable detriment of the Victorian economy.”

The Victorian Transport Association added that the average infrastructure surcharge by the three container terminals servicing the Port of Melbourne has risen by 4,189% — “yes, you read that correctly,” CEO Peter Anderson wrote.

“With little legal protection, and operating from within a largely monopolistic environment, these freight carriers have been forced to bear the brunt of opportunities that other wharf-related stakeholders have now exploited,” Anderson added.

Meanwhile, the industry in Melbourne has been awaiting the results of the Port Pricing Access Review.