HVIA Seeks To Charge Up Powered Trailers

HVIA has made a final call for members to nominate for a working group focused on the emerging issue of powered trailer regulations.

The heavy vehicle industry association initially flagged its plan for technical and advocacy work to address deficiencies in regulations that might stop the development of powered trailer concepts earlier this year.

HVIA has since developed its own internal discussion paper, which has been circulated to members expressing interest, and publicly announced its work at the recent TruckShowX 2024 conference.

In his presentation at Australia’s largest-ever transport decarbonisation event, HVIA Chief Technical Officer Adam Ritzinger (pictured below) revealed there is an “unclear regulatory path” for motive power axles, which can use an onboard power source to drive one or more of the trailer’s axles and assist its motion. These may also include regenerative energy and storage capabilities.

In contrast, there are no regulatory barriers to regenerative energy axles, which include a physical mechanism to recover the kinetic energy from a rotating axle and transform it into electrical energy.

Specifically, Ritzinger notes neither the Road Vehicle Standards Act (RVSA) – which regulates the importation of road vehicles, nor the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) – which regulates the on-road operation of all vehicles above 4.5 tonnes gross mass, include any provision for trailers to be powered.

If the RVSA and HVNL regulations were changed such that a trailer could be powered, the ADRs that apply to vehicles – and set the safety and environment requirements for all vehicles supplied to the market, may automatically apply to them by default, he contends.

HVIA proposes the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Communications, Regional Development and the Arts investigate amendments to the RVSA to explicitly provide for powered trailers as a separate category; as well as amendments to the ADR applicability tables to allow for appropriate application of ADRs to powered trailers.

Additionally, it proposes the National Transport Commission and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator look at amendments required to the HVNL to mirror the RVSA changes.

Ritzinger says the HVIA working group will focus on developing a national framework for conducting powered trailer trials, and engage with the above stakeholders to agree on a package of work to revise the regulations.

It will also investigate and propose locations and equipment for off- and on-road trials; and supply equipment for and conduct the trials.

“Heavy goods trailers are one of the shining stars of Australia’s manufacturing industry. Something like 95 per cent of all heavy goods trailers are made right here in Australia,” he says.

“And we are exceptionally good at it, and we are also exceptionally good at innovating. Our continual success in pushing the boundaries of vehicle design is evident in our ground-breaking PBS scheme.

“So, if anyone is going to decide what the trailers of our future will look like, why can’t it be us, right here in this country? We already set the standard for weights, dimensions, axle configuration, steering systems and combinations, why can’t we decide how they are powered as well?”

HVIA will hold a short member webinar its working group on Wednesday 19th June at 3:00pm AEST to discuss any necessary changes to its proposed work program, including engagement with regulators and other stakeholders.

All HVIA members who have previously nominated for the working group should have received the webinar invitation by email.

If you have not yet nominated, or did not receive the webinar invitation, or wish to see the HVIA discussion paper, please contact Adam Ritzinger on 0437 901 669 or a.ritzinger@hvia.asn.au.

Participation in the working group is open to all HVIA members holding an interest in powered trailer concepts, technology, and future regulations.

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