Ontario trucking getting ‘greener’ but barriers to investment still exist

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TORONTO, Ont.– Despite current economic conditions and financial pressures, Ontario trucking companies are embracing after-market technologies that improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHG emissions, said a recent survey of Ontario Trucking Association member companies conducted between July 6th and July 20th, 2009. However, OTA president, David Bradley, said that both regulatory and financial barriers remain that are impeding the industry from accelerating the market penetration of the full-range of proven, currently available GHG-busting technology.


”Some of the old rules governing truck weights and dimensions standards, which were written at a time when environmental considerations were not on the radar screen, don’t provide the flexibility to allow carriers to add some of the technologies to their tractors or trailer,” he said.


“And, there is the current reality that the industry simply doesn’t have the capital or the cash to re-equip the majority of their fleet even with the payback that improved fuel efficiency brings. Credit has become very hard to get; the banks are making it tough on truckers these days.”


Close to three quarters of respondents have introduced in-cab heaters into their fleet to avoid having to run the engine to keep cabs warm in the winter, said the survey. Almost half of the responding fleets said they have purchased auxiliary power units (APUs) which heat and cool the truck cab through a separate electronic unit. Interestingly, investments in both of these technologies are currently being encouraged through a modest $2.9 million over 4 years Ontario Ministry of Transportation initiative called the Green Commercial Vehicle Program. Until a couple of years ago APU’s also received partial rebates from the federal government through a Natural Resources Canada program. However, OTA says that successful program was mothballed when the change in government occurred and a new Transport Canada program has filled only part of the gap.


Bradley also said that the current incentive programs do not include the full scope of proven fuel efficiency technologies. For example, the survey says that 49% of the companies are introducing the new generation of low rolling resistant wide-base single tires into their fleets, replacing the less fuel efficient conventional dual tires.


 “Ontario is further ahead than a lot of Canadian jurisdictions,” Bradley noted. “They’ve removed the regulatory barriers to wide-base single tires, they are about to pilot a new generation of longer truck combinations, they passed the mandatory speed limiter law, and they introduced the Green Commercial Vehicle Program. That is all good, but if GHG reduction is the fight of our lives there is so much more we can and should be doing today that does not involve increased taxes or complicated cap and trade systems. The industry’s economic goals and society’s environmental goals have never been more aligned.”


“We also need the federal government to come to the table more and to support enviroTruck. We’d like them to restore programs similar to the previous APU rebates initiative – that program worked with a modest investment from the Government of Canada paying big dividends. Truckers should also receive some of the same accelerated capital cost allowances that other industries receive when they buy environmental technology,” he said. “They can also play a role in bringing all the provinces together to harmonize standards.”

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