HVIA Seek Changes To Powered Trailer Regulations

HVIA is seeking to progress outstanding regulatory roadblocks necessary to enable widespread use of powered axles in heavy vehicle combinations.

The member-based organisation raised this issue with regulators at the recent Vehicle Safety Consultative Forum (VSCF) in Canberra and received confirmation from road managers, the NHVR, and other industry associations that these issues need to be addressed.

Additionally, HVIA presented this topic at the last round of Member Meetings in February and generated strong interest from members.

HVIA Transport Policy and Legislation Advisor Greg Forbes says the main problem is the current legislative frameworks allow for axles to use regenerative braking to power on-trailer systems but do not allow use of powered axles (to provide motive power) in trailers. This makes it difficult to gain vehicle type approvals for powered trailers, he adds.

Forbes says HVIA is planning to set up a working group of its members to work with regulators to resolve these issues. It is in the process of finalising a discussion paper to outline the issues that need to be addressed.

“The initial focus will be on enabling trials for powered trailers to prove the technology. The longer-term aim will be to make changes to the Road Vehicle Standards Act (RVSA) to allow those vehicles to be supplied more generally to the market and changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and corresponding legislation in WA and NT to govern the on-road operation of combinations containing those trailers,” he explains.

The concept of a ‘powered trailer’ is based on the idea of adding motive power and energy regeneration capabilities to heavy goods trailers. Its application in Australia has emerged from discussions among HVIA’s member base.

Several HVIA members include trailer axles that feature regenerative and/or motive capabilities in their portfolios

Forbes notes several HVIA members presently include trailer axles that feature regenerative and/or motive capabilities in their product portfolios, some of which were on display at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.

In addition, he says trailer manufacturers are beginning to look at these technologies to improve energy efficiency and performance of heavy vehicle combinations.

“There are a wide range of potential benefits arising from the use of regenerative and motive axles in trailers,” Forbes says.

“The energy that regenerative axles capture is typically braking energy that is otherwise normally lost as waste heat, thereby representing a useful opportunity to improve efficiency, and also reduce normal brake wear.

“The recovered energy can be used to power ancillary trailer equipment such as cooling/heating units and hydraulic pumps; and charge batteries either on the trailer or the towing vehicle, for motive use.”

Forbes adds the driving power provided by motive power axles, using either their own stand-alone battery or one charged by a regenerative capability, can permit use of a lower powered hauling unit, resulting in greater overall efficiency.

They can also reduce the load on the hauling unit, thereby extending its range; and improve the startability (ie ability of a vehicle to commence motion on a steep grade) or gradeability (ie ability of a vehicle to sustain a specific speed on any grade) performance of a vehicle combination.

If you are interested in participating in HVIA’s powered trailers working group contact Adam Ritzinger at a.ritzinger@hvia.asn.au or Greg Forbes at g.forbes@hvia.asn.au.

Registrations Open For Upcoming Member Meetings

Last week HVIA released details of its new Member Forums and is pleased to announce that online registrations are now…

Member Spotlight: Base Air’s Mark Thiele

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more passionate industry person than Mark Thiele. After a multi-decade career in transport (and…

Follow Us