short hauls

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Working Wheels - James Stan­ford

Rugby league le­gend Shane We­bcke (pic­tured) has been signed up for a sec­ond time as the face of the Bris­bane Truck Show. This year’s only ma­jor na­tional truck show, the event will be held at the Bris­bane Con­ven­tion and En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre from May 16 to 19. It is the big­gest event that is held at the venue. We­bcke is a log­i­cal choice to pro­mote the show as the former Bronco player used to op­er­ate trucks and also has his Multi Com­bi­na­tion li­cence, which means he is al­lowed to drive ev­ery­thing from a light duty truck through to a full-size road train.

An auc­tion­eer spe­cial­is­ing in trucks and con­struc­tion­re­lated machines and ve­hi­cles has opened a 16-hectare site on the out­skirts of Gee­long, Vic­to­ria. In­ter­na­tional out­fit Ritchie Bros has held an of­fi­cial open­ing for the cen­tre that now features a large auc­tion build­ing in­clud­ing a 670-seat au­di­to­rium. The open­ing auc­tion late last month cleared more than $25 mil­lion worth of equip­ment.

Mercedes-Benz is putting new Un­i­mog and Econic ve­hi­cles through ex­treme tests in the bit­ter cold of the Arc­tic Cir­cle. The pro­to­types of up­dated ve­hi­cles have crunched through deep snow as tem­per­a­tures dip to mi­nus 30 centi­grade. The com­pany is hold­ing the tests in Fin­land, near Ro­vaniemi, the cap­i­tal of La­p­land, to test new models fea­tur­ing Euro VI-com­pli­ant en­gines. From Jan­uary 1, all trucks sold in Europe will need to meet the new emis­sions stan­dard. Aus­tralia is yet to lock in when it will in­tro­duce an equiv­a­lent stan­dard, although it is likely to ar­rive in 2016 or 2017.

Volvo Trucks is team­ing up with Shell to en­cour­age greater take-up of liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas around the world. The two com­pa­nies have an­nounced they will press for greater LNG take-up, start­ing with se­lected coun­tries in cen­tral Europe and the US. ‘‘Shell is a key player in this mar­ket and we are one of the lead­ing truck man­u­fac­tur­ers, with an en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient gas truck al­ready avail­able on the mar­ket,’’ says Volvo pub­lic af­fairs di­rec­tor Len­nart Pil­skog. ‘‘To­gether we be­lieve that we can en­hance and speed up the in­tro­duc­tion of LNG to the trans­port busi­ness, both through own ac­tiv­i­ties and by in­spir­ing oth­ers,’’ he says.

The Gil­lard government should scrap its plan to in­clude trucks in the car­bon tax from mid next year, says the Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion. Chair­man David Simon pushed the point in his ad­dress to the Na­tional Press Club last week. Trucks were ini­tially go­ing to be in­cluded in the car­bon tax in­tro­duced in mid 2012, but lob­by­ing led to the in­dus­try’s ex­emp­tion for two years. Fuel tax cred­its will also be re­duced in 2014. Both moves would lead to a ‘‘27 per cent tax hike’’, ac­cord­ing to Simon. ‘‘It would cost the in­dus­try more than half a bil­lion dol­lars a year.’’ Simon be­lieves the tax hit would hurt truck­ing op­er­a­tors. ‘‘It would be a mas­sive shock for many truck busi­nesses and they would not be able to re­spond,’’ Simon says. Truck op­er­a­tors can get tax ex­emp­tions by re­duc­ing their en­ergy use or run­ning trucks on bio-diesel, LNG or CNG, but switch­ing to th­ese fu­els can be dif­fi­cult and costly (switch­ing to bio-diesel can re­quire dou­bling sched­uled truck oil changes). ‘‘Truck­ing busi­nesses only have lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­duce their en­ergy use. Switch­ing to re­new­ables is not gen­er­ally an op­tion,’’ he says. ‘‘Biodiesel blends are rarely avail­able and gaseous fu­els like LNG are not us­able for long dis­tance op­er­a­tions. So busi­nesses are left with try­ing to pass on the car­bon tax.’’ Simon, who runs his own truck­ing busi­ness, says pass­ing on the cost is not as easy as it sounds. Simon called on the fed­eral government to make an elec­tion com­mit­ment to ex­clude trucks from the tax.

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