Make / Model Search

News - Industry News

OEMs welcome cash boost for clean fleets

Future Fuels Fund pumps $127.9m into helping fleets transition to cleaner vehicles

22 Feb 2022

MANUFACTURERS have reacted positively to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) making $127.9 million of the Future Fuels Fund available to help light and heavy fleet operators shift to new zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) over the next four years. 


The Australian federal government recently announced a $178 million cash boost to the Future Fuels Fund that ramped up its value to $250 million, enabling ARENA to launch the $127.9 million fleet program to support fleet operators to integrate ZEVs into their operations. 


Funding will be available for light-vehicle fleet operators for charging and electrical infrastructure, while heavy fleet operators are eligible for funding towards enabling infrastructure and some support for vehicle costs.


ARENA is also looking to fund projects that incorporate hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. 


The Future Fuels Fund is designed to drive co-investment at scale in charging and refuelling infrastructure projects for the country’s future transport needs, including electricity, hydrogen and biofuels. 


Its latest package of funding delivers on the next stage of the Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy released by the Australian Government on 9 November 2021.


Under Round 1 of the Future Fuels Fund, ARENA awarded $24.55 million to five companies for the construction of 403 fast-charging stations across Australia. The first of these charging stations was completed and opened for use by the public late last year. 


“Assisting fleet users to move to zero emissions vehicles means getting more zero emission cars and trucks on the road sooner, driving the road transport sector toward a net zero future,” ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said. 


“By getting these vehicles on the road as soon as possible we’ll reduce emissions in the short term and help to create a market for second-hand vehicles, giving more (fleet operators) the option of switching to a ZEV with their next vehicle purchase,” Mr Miller said.


Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) senior manager of future mobility and government relations Scott Nargar, who recently told GoAuto News that the roll-out of hydrogen-powered trucks and buses was part of HMCA’s long-term plans, said the firm “welcomes the announcement of the second round of funding under the Future Fuels program. Infrastructure is critical for the deployment of more zero emissions transport solutions in Australia. Hydrogen infrastructure is especially important for the deployment of hydrogen trucks and buses, along with light vehicles such as the Nexo SUV.’


“Industry and government partners across Australia will enable the introduction of cluster programmes for H2 stations in cities, to ensure heavy vehicle fleet operators have the confidence to get a green H2 fill at more than just one location. Our focus at Hyundai now is to look at industry and government partnerships required to deploy green stations not only within major cities, but also along the transport corridors that link these cities together.


“At Hyundai we welcome competition in this space as it will drive fleet operator awareness, vehicle choice and help encourage further funding for green transport infrastructure. This will, in turn, drive our progression toward a higher level of fuel security. A combination of wind, solar and vast space to deploy renewable energy can help power not only our own domestic transport fleet, but also the fleets of neighbouring countries. The export potential for Australia as the region’s ‘green energy powerhouse’ shouldn’t be underestimated,” he added.


Mercedes-Benz Vans, which is poised to launch the battery-electric eVito panel van, eVito Tourer and EQV models in 2022, and the eSprinter in 2024, welcomed the announcement.


“We support any measure that makes it easier for our customers to switch to electric commercial vehicles,” said Marketing and PR Manager of Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia Blake Vincent, the, said. "It aligns with our ambition to offer electrified derivatives in all of our ranges in future and will allow operators to achieve their goals of lowering operating costs and reducing their environmental impact. For us, this is very positive news."


Spokespersons for Ford Australia, which plans to introduce the E-Transit LCV in 2022 and Volvo Trucks Australia, which will launch its medium-duty FL electric truck on the local market at the end of June, echoed Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia’s sentiments.


“Ford Australia welcomes any positive news around investment in EV infrastructure,” the company’s Product Communications Manager Ben Nightingale said. “We look forward to launching our first electrified vehicles this year – the Escape PHEV and fully-electric E-Transit.”       


Matt Wood, Volvo Group Australia’s Strategic Projects & Communications Manager, told GoAuto News that the introduction of incentives to facilitate the uptake of battery-electric commercial vehicles was very welcome, because it would make such vehicles more cost effective to procure and easier to operate (through the expansion of charging networks).


“It will also encourage a younger commercial vehicle parc in Australia by making it easier for businesses to switch to battery-electric products when the time comes to renew their fleets,” Mr Wood said, adding “the proliferation of electric trucks will also aid by reducing noise and diesel particulate pollution in the congested urban areas in which they operate.”   


Meanwhile, Australian Logistics Council (ALC) chief executive, Brad Williams, was quoted as saying that the ALC also welcomed Round 2 of the Future Fuels Fund.


“Given the nature of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet, the future availability of second hand low or zero emission vehicles in the marketplace will mean more affordable access for non-fleet businesses, over time,” Mr Williams said.


“There are already a number of positive developments across the transport sector and momentum is building but the transition is influenced by a range of factors including government incentives, policy settings, access to the right technology, customer expectations and investor sentiment,” he added.


Bill Gillespie, SEA Electric President – Asia Pacific Region said government assistance to industry was essential in aiding the transition to EV technology, and subsequently for the country to achieve its net-zero carbon emissions goals.


“Around the world, government assistance with regards to transitioning fleets to future fuels has been imperative to ensure the early uptake of the technology,” he said.


“Australia’s road freight sector accounts for 38 per cent of the country’s total transport emissions, so political policy related to the conversion in this area to zero-emissions technology should be a priority,” Mr Gillespie concluded.


Future targeted funding rounds under the program will focus on further expansions to the electric vehicle public charging network, including regional areas, as well as increasing the use of smart chargers in drivers’ homes. ARENA has committed over $78 million to ZEV technologies since 2016, including ultra-fast charging networks on major highways, home smart charging trials, next-generation biofuels and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. 

Read more

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Industry News articles

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here