May 17, 2022

Kickstarter – Prime Mover Magazine

Joining IVECO 34 years ago, Marco Quaranta held technical and commercial positions and more recently product management.

Some level of exposure in the industry comes with that. Quaranta is also involved in meetings with the Truck Industry Council and the Heavy Vehicle Industry Association, but institutional relationships aren’t all it does.

PRIME MOVER: What about alternative fuels helped prepare you for this new role?
Marco Quaranta: I follow special projects including the evolution of our factory. With alternative fuels it is my extended exposure to product development and evolution in Europe where my contacts provide a certain level of knowledge of market segments and customer demands.

PM: Is the lack of facilities the main reason why gas has not been successful in Australia?
QM: No. Gas refueling facilities have grown in Europe and there are now 4,000 stations split between CNG and LNG. There was growth because there was demand. The big oil companies would never have started building infrastructure if they weren’t sure there were manufacturers supplying the vehicles and customers buying them.

PM: What has driven the growth of gas?
QM: The key to the current growth of gas trucks in Europe, and also in the near future of electric vehicles, are the incentives and benefits that, first the central government in Europe, then the governments of the various countries, have put on Table. This filled the void in the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the gasoline truck. Today, driving a gasoline-powered truck is about the same as driving a diesel truck in terms of operating costs.

PM: Does gas still have a future in Australia?
QM: Gas had a peak in 2009-2011 when the price of diesel went up and it looked like it was gaining momentum, so there were LNG trucks produced, but when the price of diesel returned to normal, everything died because there was no support or incentive to create infrastructure and create demand.

PM: Is this what we will need for electric vehicles?
QM: Australia has recently made a significant commitment to achieve certain targets, as pledged at the recent COP26. The discussions I’ve had with industry organizations and government are much different now and there are tangible signals of investment right now. It’s happening in Europe where 30% of new trucks on the road have to be zero emissions by 2030 because that’s what the government has mandated. The German government was the first to offer incentives for gas trucks and they were the first to put on the table incentives for electric vehicles and the infrastructure is being created there. It is no coincidence that our first customer for the first batch of the Nikola which will leave the Ulm factory in 2022 is the German port of Hamburg.

PM: Is there a future for diesel outside niche applications?
QM: Once you have a radical change in technology like battery and hydrogen, which in my opinion go hand in hand, probably in 20 years, it will no longer be efficient to produce both types of vehicles. I don’t see two different technologies that require constant development in terms of safety, emissions, etc., going hand in hand because you’re duplicating all the investment. Eventually, you will only see a future of electric motors. Battery technology will evolve because it’s only a matter of how much money you invest. Batteries will become more and more affordable as technology develops.

PM: How far behind Europe will Australia be in implementing zero-emission vehicles?
QM: In Europe, the objective is that you cannot achieve the CO² reduction that will be regulated if you do not have 30% of new vehicles sold with zero emissions within ten years. In 25 years, 100% of new vehicles will have to be truly zero emissions to achieve this reduction. In Australia, well, who knows? It all depends on the level of support, incentive and infrastructure for refueling that will be available. Australia has a tall order as the distance long haul trucks can travel can be ten times that in Europe from city to city. It will therefore be necessary to create refueling stations in fairly remote places. If Australia will follow Europe in implementing CO2 emissions and we call for zero emissions as promised, it will probably only be two or three years after Europe. There is also another factor if manufacturers will produce more electric trucks and less diesel trucks which will effectively push electric truck production in Australia as we all know the difficulty of maintaining different platforms. The same happens with Euro 6 engines as it is more practical for manufacturers to have Euro 6 production for Europe, Australia and all the rest of the world rather than Euro 5 right hand drive here, or a Euro 4 there. The day will come when no more diesel trucks will be produced in the world. It’s a mandatory path that we have to follow, because if we don’t, we’re out of the market. We will not be able to sell our trucks because we will have to achieve this zero emissions with the reduction of CO² in a holistic way. It’s almost a domino effect if you take all the CO² generated while building a truck and all of its components and extend it over the lifetime of the vehicle, actual driving is up to 70 to 80% of total CO². If you reduce this, you already have a big achievement in the overall CO² reduction.

PM: Is IVECO ready to meet these challenges?
QM: At IVECO we are ready to supply. We will have the Daily Electric for export from the end of this year in Europe and it will come to Australia the following year. The Nikola is truly a public project and every month or two we reach a new milestone. We opened the Ulm factory at the end of last year. My appointment to this position is proof that IVECO is not just looking to Europe because there is regulation there, but because it believes it is a global effort.

PM: Are you excited about it?
QM: A lot, because I have always been intrigued by new technologies such as ESC, ABS and automatic transmissions and the evolution of generations of these. What interests me is when technology combines safety, efficiency, etc., and it’s always fascinating to discover how. We are now talking about totally different trucks. An electric motor can give you endless possibilities in terms of safety, efficiency and a quieter truck. In fact, we are faced with the problem of making the oncoming truck heard because it does not make noise. Before the problem was to keep the noise at 85 dB, now the problem is to produce noise so that cyclists and pedestrians can actually hear it and do not cross the road. It really is a total shape shifter for technology in the industry.