A step in the right direction — hopefully

In the year 2000 Europe introduced the Euro III regulation for trucks and busses.

The Australian Government introduced the same regulation, ADR80/00 in January 2003. In 2005 Euro IV was introduced in Europe and Australia implemented this standard in 2008, ADR80/02.

Europe moved to Euro V in 2008 and we implemented the Euro V standard (ADR80/03) in 2011.

You can see a pattern here, European deployment, followed by the introduction of the same emission standard in Australia approximately three years later, once the engine technology has been “bedded down” in the country of origin. And here in Australia our Government allows equivalent alternative emission standards from Japan and the USA, where applicable, giving truck and engine manufacturers the option of meeting the Australian exhaust emission requirements using technology from their homeland markets.

When Europe introduced Euro VI for heavy vehicles in 2013, one would have expected that Australia would move to this exhaust regulation in about 2016, unlocking the health benefits of this cleaner emission standard for all Australians.

Not so, in fact in 2021 we are still potentially another seven years away from Euro VI and equivalent alternative emission regulation in Australia, if the recommendations in latest Regulation Impact Statement (RIS), released by the Federal Government, are implemented.

That would be a staggering fifteen years after the implementation of this clean air standard in Europe!

It cannot be said that this protracted timeline is due to a lack of government awareness of this issue.

Back in October 2015, then Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, Paul Fletcher, headed the review of Australia’s vehicle emission standards, this led to the release of the original draft Euro VI RIS in December 2016. Submissions from industry and other stakeholders, including States and Territories were sought and received in early 2017.

Then seemingly little or no action until a new draft RIS was released in October 2020. During that time the Truck Industry Council (TIC) has repeatedly requested that the conversation be restarted.

TIC members have not let our government’s inaction prevent the introduction of Euro VI trucks in Australia, with one member introducing these cleaner engined trucks back in late 2014.

Other members followed and last year, thirty per cent of all new trucks sold in Australia were Euro VI, or equivalents from Japan and the USA.

In the lengthy delay between the first and second draft RIS, the European regulation has been amended, moving from Step C to Step D.

The tailpipe emissions are exactly the same for all Steps of the Euro VI regulation (A to D), the variations only effect the testing methods and the On-Board Diagnostic systems that are required.

The Department has recommended the introduction of Step D in the October 2020 RIS, while they recommended Step C in the December 2016 RIS.

The main difference between Steps C and D is the way in which the “life” of the emission system is tested.

Step C requires thousands of hours of laboratory dynameter testing to prove the aftertreatment system life, whilst Step D requires annual in-service testing over a period of up to seven years.

The in-service testing is not required in either Japan, or the USA, nor has it been shown to have any fundamental health or environmental benefits that TIC is aware of.

To ensure that truck manufactures adequately test the truck, Step D requires the vehicle to be tested at the GVM, or GCM, whichever is greater. Unfortunately, the Department has not considered the ramification of introducing Step D, over Step C, for Australia.

Due to our uniquely high GCMs on rigid trucks, such as tipper and dogs and on prime movers used for B-Doubles and roadtrains, the European in-service test results are not valid due to Europe’s low GCMs.

TIC has estimated that the adoption of Step D will add almost $900 million to the cost of certifying Euro VI trucks for the Australian market, needlessly adding thousands of dollars to the price of a new truck, all for no apparent benefit.

The Truck Industry Council and our members fully support the implementation of Euro VI and the equivalent alternate standards from Japan and the USA, in fact TICs submissions to both the 2016 and 2020 RIS have called for the early adoption of these emission regulations, phased in from January 2024 to January 2025, some three and a half years sooner than our government’s proposal.

However, the Euro VI regulation that must be adopted in Australia is Step C, and not Step D. This will ensure that Australia can benefit from the health and environmental benefits of the world’s best emission regulations, while not financially penalising Australian truck operators for our unique heavy vehicle combinations.

Tony McMullan
CEO, Truck Industry Council