Heavy zero emission trucks get new rating in SA trial

Trucks weighing more than the current weight limit for heavy vehicles will be allowed to drive on specified South Australian roads under a new trial of low and zero emission vehicles.

Sep 29, 2023, updated Oct 03, 2023
The South Eastern Freeway. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

The South Eastern Freeway. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Prime mover operators in SA can soon apply for an exemption from the mass limits that apply to heavy vehicles on state roads as part of the trial of EV and low emission trucks.

Current restrictions will be loosened because low and zero emissions heavy vehicles are “typically heavier as the technology can add significant mass to the vehicle”, the state government says.

A pre-approved network of state-controlled roads has been established as part of the 12-month trial on which the low emissions trucks can travel.

The pre-approved network of roads heavy EV trucks can use. The red dots represent restricted bridges which cannot be crossed by the EV trucks, while the white crosses mark roads where a Telematic Monitoring Application (TMA) and Smart Onboard Mass Management (OBM) is a condition of access. Photo: DIT.

Prime movers powered by an electric motor with fixed or removable batteries, a hydrogen engine, a hydrogen electric motor, a diesel or petrol hybrid electric engine, or an ‘ethically/sustainably sourced alternative fuel’ engine can apply for the trial.

These trucks can weigh up to 400kg more than road train prime movers under the current restrictions, according to the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

“These vehicles will be able to operate up to 7.5t on the steer axle and 18.5t on the tandem drive axle, there is no change to trailer mass limits,” a spokesperson said.

“For comparison, a road train prime mover may currently operate up to 7.1t on the steer axle and prime movers towing low loader and platform trailers (class 1) may operate 18.5 on the tandem drive.”

EV trucks will be permitted to travel on the South Eastern Freeway as long as they are less than 26m in length.

During the trial, DIT will “monitor the road infrastructure on which these vehicles operate using telematics technology to better understand the vehicle’s performance and compatibility with infrastructure and the associated cost impacts”.

The EV trucks will not need to display overweight signage, but a range of safety features must be on board.

“As part of the access trial arrangements, operators must ensure that their prime movers are fitted with a range of safety features, including underrun protection, electronic braking and lane departure warnings,” the spokesperson said.

“These vehicles will also be monitored closely through telematics monitoring application technology and smart onboard mass management. While these vehicles do not need to display overweight signage, they are required to have signage that clearly marks emergency stop and fuel stop locations on the vehicle.

“Operators must also ensure that they carry an incident response management plan when operating the vehicle. The Department can choose to rescind access at any time per section 156A of the Heavy Vehicle National Law.”

Transport Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the trial was a “significant step in our mission to achieve net zero emissions by 2050”.

“We are aware of several heavy vehicle operators who are looking to adopt low or zero emission technologies and this trial scheme will allow them to operate in South Australia,” he said.

“My department has been consulting with industry and manufacturers about this trial, to ensure the access arrangements are effective and sustainable.”

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