As the federal government continues to explore policies around the use of low carbon fuels, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) reminds policy makers that readily available alternative fuel technology and infrastructure has not kept pace with the trucking industry’s desire to reduce its carbon footprint further.
“The trucking industry is not a monolithic entity,” said CTA president Stephen Laskowski. “Although low carbon technologies like natural gas and electric engines have less infrastructure and supply chain challenges for short haul trucking, government must also be aware that significant impediments for long-haul fleets using these technologies continues to persist.
Laskowski said CTA is encouraged by recent developments in electric trucks – “we’re perhaps starting to see a small handful of long-haul fleets kick the tires of heavy-duty electric vehicles” – but pointed out a modern long-haul truck can travel 1500 miles before needing to refuel. Electric trucks can only travel about 500 miles before needing to be recharged.
“Because of these technological and operational challenges, the predominant fuel used for long-haul trucking will continue to be diesel – not necessarily by choice, but because of practical and operational realities,” he said. “Without a battery swapping program or a dramatic reduction in recharging time, the electric truck will not work for long-haul drivers.
He said drivers, who are limited by hours of service rules in the number of hours they can drive in a day or week, cannot afford to spend precious time finding locations to recharge or change batteries.
The use of biodiesel has also been raised as a short-term, low carbon solution for the trucking sector. CTA’s advised the federal government to look forward, not backward for environmental transportation solutions:
“Biodiesel is as outdated as the rotary phone and belongs on the shelf with other ideas past their due date. Biodiesel is impractical, costly and gives rise to several operational issues, with little, to no environmental benefits for our sector,” says Laskowski. “Instead, CTA looks forward to working with the federal government on exploring how natural gas and electric vehicles can grow in the trucking market and how impediments could be removed.
To overcome some of the challenges associated with electric and natural gas vehicles, CTA reminds governments that incentive programs remain a valid option to attract early adopters.