Ventia and SEA Electric have delivered the first custom-built, fully electric vehicle (EV) truck for Victoria’s arterial road construction and maintenance industry, on behalf of the Netflow Consortium.
A year in the making, the SEA Hino 917 EV supports the Victorian Government’s position to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Ventia’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Dean Banks said the company applies a client-focused, innovative and sustainable approach to essential infrastructure services and is excited to bring this approach to support the Victorian Government.
“Ventia has a strong commitment to deliver our services in a sustainable and innovative manner,” said Mr Banks.
“This EV innovation is an example of our commitment and how we are also addressing a key challenge facing our industry: transition of traditional heavy vehicles to more sustainable power sources.”
As the Services Contractor to Netflow for the 23-year term of the Western Roads Upgrade Project (WRU), Ventia will maintain 260 kilometres of recently upgraded roads between West Melbourne and Werribee.
Instead of sourcing a diesel maintenance truck for its fleet and adding to greenhouse gas emissions, Ventia and SEA Electric developed a flexible EV that not only leads the way for future projects but is purpose-built for maintenance and landscaping work.
Compared to a diesel truck, the EV will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 11 tonnes a year. Emitting no exhaust fumes, it will also improve air quality, which is another key sustainability target.
The EV truck has already received innovation recognition from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council as a market transforming opportunity.
“Our use of transport infrastructure, such as the use of cars and trucks, currently makes up 20% of national emissions. Early uptake of innovations such as electric heavy vehicles are not only critical for helping bring down the carbon footprint associated with construction and maintenance of our assets but pave the way to scale the technology which will be critical in achieving net zero more broadly,” said ISC’s Chief Operating Officer, Patrick Hastings.
“We congratulate Ventia, Netflow, and the Victorian Government on the use of electric heavy vehicles and are pleased that we can reward and recognise their introduction into the fleet through the IS Rating Scheme.”
Mr Banks said transitioning all vehicles to more sustainable power sources, including trucks, is aligned with Ventia’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals for climate action.
“The success of our first EV truck in Ventia’s fleet paves the way to introduce more EVs in our contracts across Australia and New Zealand. We hope this will encourage other companies to use EVs in their fleets too,” Mr Banks said.
Read the full article at Fleet Auto News published on December 29, 2021.
Two new side-loading electric vehicles have joined Waiheke’s roadside collections fleet, making Waiheke’s weekly collections 100 per cent zero emissions. These two FSR/SEA-Drive® 120 vehicles join a smaller Isuzu NQR, which has been in service for the past twelve months.
Electric vehicles are a lot quieter than diesel trucks, so pay attention when they’re passing through your neighbourhood.
Local Board chair Cath Handley says, “Waiheke is future focused and making changes right now to clean up our air and to play our role in preserving the planet. We invite everyone to act, not just to talk about change. These trucks are helping every local household to reduce its carbon footprint.”
Stephen Fairweather, General Manager at SEA Electric (NZ) shares how they are “proud to be involved in the electric vehicle movement on Waiheke Island, with technology that genuinely makes a positive change for the environment. The SEA-Drive® power-system has made it possible for these vehicles to be 100 per cent electric, not only for driving operations, but also by providing power for all of the ancillary refuse functions of the vehicles.”
Read the full article at Make the Most of Waste published on December 17, 2021.
SEA Electric, a provider of electric commercial vehicles originally from Australia and now based in Los Angeles has received another major order: US school bus dealer Midwest Transit Equipment (MTE) wants SEA to convert 10,000 existing school buses to electric vehicles.
SEA Electric and Midwest Transit Equipment have partnered up to equip 10,000 school buses with battery-electric drive systems. Midwest Transit Equipment is to provide the chassis that are to be equipped with the SEA-Drive propulsion system and thus become purely electric school buses. SEA Electric will not only provide the electric drives but will conduct with conversion within its “extensive network of up-fitting partners,” as Nick Casas, VP of Sales and Marketing told electrive.com. The eventually fully-electric buses will also have a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) function that of course means the vehicles will be able to act as grid-balancing vehicles and will be able to “smart charge” when energy prices are cheapest.
The retrofit of the 10,000 school buses is to be completed in the next five years. The school buses to be converted are of the US school bus class Type A and Type C. Type A is the smallest US school bus type with a length of 6 to 7.5 metres and is based on a van chassis. The traditional Type C school buses are built on truck architectures.
SEA Electric says that the conversion will extend the life of the buses by more than ten years and that two to three converted buses can be had for the price of one new electric bus. Mike Menyhart, President Americas and Chief Strategy Officer at SEA Electric says: “The secondary use of school buses fitted with all-electric drivetrains makes a lot of sense; it keeps costs down, opens up considerable availability, creates green jobs right here in the US all while making a difference in the environment and the health of the communities we serve.”
According to John McKinney, president and CEO of Midwest Transport Equipment, the partnership with SEA Electric will ensure that it can respond more quickly to customers’ needs. “As the industry moves towards zero emissions we are positioned well with our SEA Electric partnership to be a leader of the electrification movement,” says John McKinney, president and CEO of Midwest Transport Equipment.
Indeed, Nick Casas revealed to electrive.com, that SEA Electric will soon be launching in the UK, and aims to launch in six countries in Europe, including Germany.
SEA Electric is a manufacturer of US Class 3 to 8 electric commercial vehicles, light to heavy-duty. According to information from early August, SEA will have delivered more than 500 electric commercial vehicles this year alone and plans to put more than 15,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of 2023. Just a few weeks ago, SEA Electric announced an order for 1,150 electric trucks from the GATR EV company.
SEA Electric also recently announced an electric platform for a small truck that can be driven with a normal car driver’s licence. The manufacturer also recently closed a financing round of 42 million US dollars (about 36 million euros) to further expand its business. The main investor in this round was Exro Technologies, a Canadian company with which SEA Electric has also inaugurated a strategic partnership in the course of this agreement. This financing will no doubt also come in handy with SEA Electric’s planned expansion across the pond into the UK and Europe.
Read the full article at Electrive by Carrie Hampel published on December 7, 2021.
TORRANCE, Calif., – SEA Electric and Midwest Transit Equipment (MTE) have partnered to update 10,000 school buses with battery-electric power-systems, the biggest deal of its kind to date, which paves the way for a zero-emissions future for children’s transport in North America.
MTE, one of the largest school bus dealers in the country, will be able to provide clients with a near new 100% electric bus at a fraction of the cost of a new electric school bus. The deal will cover both Type A and Type C school buses, with the deliveries scheduled over the next five years.
These buses will be powered by SEA Electric’s SEA-Drive(R) power system that currently powers buses and work trucks on four continents and six countries with over a million miles of real-world use globally.
SEA Electric will power near-new fully electric buses and extend their service life by ten plus years. This partnership promotes the ESG principle of secondary use, while reducing waste, eliminating diesel particulates and most importantly positively impacting the health and wellbeing of our students.
Each bus will have the ability to deliver full vehicle-to-grid capabilities, with the SEA-Drive(R) power system able to feed electricity back into the power grid to improve stability when connected to a charging station.
The partnership signifies a major step forward in reducing the carbon footprint of bus fleets, while also accelerating the industry to electrification at a desirable price point. Two to three re-powered buses can be delivered at the same price as a new electric bus.
“This commitment is the most significant in this segment to-date. It not only illustrates the appetite for transition to 100% electric transport, it defines the point-in-time that the commercial vehicle industry transitioned to sustainable scale, without the need for incentives” – said Tony Fairweather, Founder and CEO.
“This partnership will allow us to react to our customer’s needs more quickly and will compliment new bus sales. As the industry moves towards zero emissions we are positioned well with our SEA Electric partnership to be a leader of the electrification movement.” said John McKinney, President and CEO of Midwest Transport Equipment.
“The secondary use of school buses fitted with all-electric drivetrains makes a lot of sense; it keeps costs down, opens up considerable availability, creates green jobs right here in the US all while making a difference in the environment and the health of the communities we serve,” said Mike Menyhart, President – Americas and Chief Strategy Officer at SEA Electric.
Read the full article at School Transportation News published on December 6, 2021.
In 2021, SEA Electric launched Australia’s first volume produced range of all-electric trucks, including the SEA 300 and the SEA 500 models, suiting applications from 4.5 tonne car licence vehicles through to 22.5 tonne 3 axle trucks.
The SEA-Drive® Power system is currently available in four specifications, ranging from 180HP/700Nm, through to 470HP/3,500Nm, with various battery capacities from 88kWh through to 220kWh.
The trucks are produced from a Semi Knocked Down (SKD) kit, with the donor truck cab mated to chassis rails, suspension, wheels and all drive-train components at the SEA Electric factory.
The process has resulted in many specialist jobs being created, both in the company’s engineering ranks and within the factory.
Read the full article at HVIA published on November 19, 2021.
Fleet Auto News Caroline Falls talks with Bill Gillespie, President – Asia Pacific of Australia’s newest truck OEM, SEA Electric. Gillespie recently joined SEA Electric after many years at Hino Australia. Gillespie talks about his move, about SEA Electric’s exciting new trucks, and about SEA Electric’s shift to California. This is a transcript of the interview edited for brevity. For the full interview you can listen to the podcast linked here.
Welcome, Bill, it’s a thrill to have you on our podcast. I’ve been following developments at SEA Electric for about five years since seeing a Bucher garbage truck retrofit by SEA Electric at a fleet exhibition. It’s been an exciting journey for sure, and I can’t wait to hear more about it from you, and to share it with our listeners.
Thanks Caroline. It’s great to be with you today.
Firstly, let’s talk about you joining SEA Electric, which is a recent development. When, why and how did that come about?
I joined in May this year. In my role at Hino I’d worked on the SEA Electric project, and I’d made a good connection with the founder and CEO Tony Fairweather. Over the time, I became more and more interested in the project, and more and more interested in the whole zero-emission world. I’ve always been a great advocate for greener technology, so it seemed like an obvious segue for me for the next stage of my career.
Fantastic. One of the highlights of the Brisbane Truck Show this year, where we’re talking about SEA Electric working with Hino — was the unveiling of the SEA Electric trucks, some of them built on the Hino chassis imported and built here I think by SEA Electric. Can you tell us everything about the SEA Electric trucks built here by Hino?
The two trucks in our range, the 816 (Hino 300 series) — a smaller delivery truck used for infrastructure work, like tip trucks and council trucks, and, then a larger truck — a GH (Hino 500 series) — both of those are imported from Hino in Japan, as SKD, or semi knockdown kits. We assemble them in our factory in Melbourne. We assemble the truck on a jig and then we install the SEA Electric power system or the drive system into the trucks so that’s a fully built up unit from SEA Electric — assembled in Australia, in Melbourne for the Australian market.
Fantastic. I think the introduction of an electric truck, the ideal size for these parcel and grocery deliveries at this juncture, where we have a COVID driven surge in online shopping, is magic.
Yes, that’s the most recent truck. The truck is aimed primarily at last-mile delivery, or home delivery service similar to the current truck that Woolworths for instance use. They’re one of the end-user companies that are going to trial these vehicles. We have already done extensive testing in Australia on that truck. Already it is reaching the payload benchmark, and also the range benchmarks, that we’ve set. So it is very exciting to be able to offer an Australian built, assembled electric truck that can be driven on a car licence. There is a huge demand for that in the Australian marketplace, from a range of different customers.
Amazing. So, with this swelling of the fleets by Woolworths and Coles and others, is that just being in the right place at the right time for you?
It’s not just happenstance. It’s part of the strategy to offer a last-mile delivery truck. You don’t need to be Einstein to work out the last-mile delivery business is huge and growing and will continue to grow by all forecasts. So, what we know is companies are seeking a zero-emission solution for that type of work. So if you can offer one, then arguably, you’ve got, a marketplace that’s growing, and one into which we think we can slot very successfully.
I’m also noting recent discussions now about electric vehicles aren’t so fixated on range anxiety anymore.
I think range anxiety as they describe is fairly quickly becoming an old conversation. Just recently, ARENA, a federal government infrastructure funding body, released a range of grants for different companies to instal charging infrastructure in Australia. That subsidy was for over 400 (chargers). I know Ampol is one of the companies and they plan to introduce electric charging modules to all their forecourts over the next two to three years. So, that range anxiety that people may experience today, just won’t be part of the conversation. You’ll be able to charge your cars pretty much anywhere you like. Clearly it still takes longer to charge a car than it does to put fuel in it. In the truck world, what we see is they’re charging at their base; they go out, they do their run, and they come back. So with some of the companies we work with that’s exactly how they operate, they charge from their own renewables structure — either solar on the roof, or they have another way of generating renewable energy, and they charge their trucks overnight, on a low-cost tariff regime. So they’re not saying to us, when we talk to them, that range is an issue; it’s just not a conversation. But, it’s horses for courses. Of course, if a truck is going to be driven from Sydney to Newcastle and back every day, that’s a different challenge and one that probably isn’t going to be met today by an EV truck.
Just turning to something else now, I did mention in the intro that SEA Electric has been deemed an OEM, or original equipment manufacturer. Is that because you also do complete own design and build. Can you tell us more about the designation
You need to be assembling or manufacturing your own truck, which is exactly what we do. We bring the componentry in from around the world. We also have a percentage of the truck that’s made from locally produced items — cabling, and switch gear and items like that. In that sense we’re no different to Volvo who have a factory at Wacol (in Brisbane). And we’ve joined the Truck Industry Council. We will have our registrations listed with the Truck Industry Council, just like every other truck manufacturer.
I also wanted to talk about the shift of SEA Electric headquarters from Victoria to California. California has long been a leader in the shift to sustainable energy and a proponent of it. I’ve interviewed public works fleet managers from that state so I know there’s a lot going on there in that space. But tell us in, in your words, why did SEA Electric move its headquarters to California, and when?
Well, look, I think there’s a lot of energy in Australia for zero-emission solutions, no doubt about that. We’ve had some great support from buyers around Australia, also companies and governments. I guess the fact is, of course, that the market is a certain size in Australia. We want to recognise that and respect that but the North American market is just a much bigger scale. So, if you are going to grow a business in this space, you need to be looking to North America and also Europe. We’ve just established an office in Germany. We want to stretch out, spread our wings if you like. The North American market is very important. The Californian opportunity is big because they’ve got a lot of incentives for Californian companies to change to zero-emission trucks, so it made sense for us to be in that market initially, and eventually we’ll have offices right across North America.
Wow, I’m looking forward to keeping my eye on SEA Electric. So, just talking about this boon that’s going on for you, I hear that an IPO, or initial public offering, may be being considered. Is there anything you can tell us about that, like, could it be a dual listing on the Australian exchange as well as in the US. I guess the chief benefit is that it gives SEA Electric the ability to raise capital to expand. Is that the case? Is that what you and the board are envisaging — rapid growth and planning for that.
Obviously, it costs money to scale to this level. And building trucks and the infrastructure is not without its cost, so growing the business means we need to, at some point, decide whether we list on a stock exchange and which one is it. It is more likely to be the NASDAQ; that’s most likely to be in the first part of 2022, although that’s yet to be decided. But, yes, we would like to list and go with an IPO in the first half of next year, if that timing works out.
Well, let’s finish up now with you telling us what to watch out for next from SEA, and also maybe from the electric vehicle world, generally.
I think, really for us, we’ve just finished this last-mile delivery prototype refrigerated truck. That’s the next two months; that prototyping trial program will be over, and then we will be in the market with that truck. It’s a very exciting project for us as a company, but also for the marketplace in Australia, and a real Australian first. The truck will meet the range of mileage in kilometres on auto charge and that’s game changing for the market. The other one we’re doing is, we’re working with Hino on an on-demand bus — the small Poncho 21-seat bus that they currently sell in Australia. We are working with them on a prototype and a project to repower that vehicle with an electric drive system, and that will also be a very exciting project in the first half of 2022. More generally, we’re seeing governments across Australia, mostly state governments, very interested in the whole zero-emissions space, and that’s not just electric — it’s also hydrogen and hybrid. So that whole world is really heating up. Queensland’s got their so called superhighway. And, Victoria is very keen to involve the state government, not only in just the technology but also in the potential manufacturing side as well.So it’s a really exciting time to be in the electric vehicle industry.
It certainly is. It’s just fantastic. Thank you so much for your time today Bill Gillespie, it was informative to hear what’s going on, and just great to be part of this exciting journey for SEA Electric, and for electric vehicles generally.
Thanks Caroline’s it’s been great to be with you. Thank you.
Read the full article at Fleet Auto News by Caroline Falls published on October 13, 2021.
As alternative power systems for trucks come into play the driving experience is going to change, so PowerTorque took a couple of examples out on the road to find out what it is like driving the SEA Electric truck.
PowerTorque jumped at the chance to drive some of the new electric trucks coming on line from SEA Electric. In this case the trucks were a Hino 500 crane truck and a 300 fitted with a drop side body.
Although limited, the drive was a chance to look into the future of truck driving in the urban environment.
The way these trucks have been designed make it a very similar to a driver’s experience in a diesel truck is the way the vehicle is started. The driver simply jumps in sits in the driver seat, puts the key in the ignition, turns it on and then turns ia little farther for three seconds to activate the system. This is exactly the same set of actions that driver would do when turning on a diesel engine truck, increasing that sense of familiarity.
In PowerTorque’s limited experience in driving electric trucks, the fact of the matter is there is very little to tell in terms of comparing the experiences. All electric motors have the same torque characteristics, as soon as the driver put their foot on the accelerator, they have full torque available, all of the way through the rev range.
One of the aspects of the electric truck which particularly impressed is the retardation available when the driver takes the foot off the accelerator. This is adjustable with a stalk on the steering column, exactly where the current exhaust brake control is located.
In fact this retardation performs the same function for the driver’s point of view, but from the truck’s point of view it is the valuable regenerative charging of the battery, which is taking place at the same time, and which has value for the truck’s range.
There has clearly been plenty of work being done on the way the computer controls the power system. This iteration of the SEA system feels a lot smoother when the truck takes off and slows down than an earlier model tested a couple of years ago.
This is the area where a lot of the ground work will be done to improve the acceptability of these vehicles on the market. We have seen a similar development over the years with the hybrid trucks which are in the Australian market, from Hino.
As the control system becomes smarter, the experience from the driver’s point of view becomes more normal and intuitive. There is nothing strange about the behaviour of the vehicle in response to input from the driver.
The basic principles of an electric truck are so simple and the fact that there is no need to match a transmission to an engine or accelerator input from the driver to the engines capabilities, means that just about every electric truck will feel very similar. Also, the NVH, noise vibration and harshness, measure of a driving experience will also be very similar, because of the smoothness and similarity in driveline behaviour.
Read the full article at Power Torque published on October 4, 2021.
SEA Electric developed and manufactures it electric truck drive trains in Melbourne, assembling e-trucks in Dandenong. But now the company has gone global with the major focus in bigger markets such as the US, how does it keep the business local? – Bill Gillespie explains
It’s an exciting time to be involved in the zero-emissions truck and bus world, and especially with a company that has its origins here in Australia and now proving to be a leader on the global stage.
While SEA Electric has made significant moves both here and aboard over the past 18 months, the genesis of that growth can be traced back to 2012, when the initial work commenced on the patented SEA-Drive Power-System.
From 2017, the technology was retrofitted to a wide range of ICE vehicles, and subsequently provided the company with millions of kilometres of real-world data from these repurposed all-electric powered vehicles.
In recent times, SEA Electric has expanded its footprint to include a significant presence in markets such as the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa and Germany.
AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURING SUCCESS
Locally, SEA Electric in 2021 has grown to become Australia’s latest truck OEM, with a dedicated new truck production line creating vehicles backed by a full factory warranty, and available from a network of 15 dealerships nationwide.
The trucks have been fully tested to comply with ADR standards and carry SEA Electric badging. Our local team includes in-house research and development, support, product planning and development units.
It’s a major step forward for the industry and represents the first true range of all-electric trucks available anywhere in the world, with solutions ranging from 4.5-tonne car licence vehicles through to 22.5 tonne, three-axle trucks, completely adaptable for a wide range of final applications.
To achieve this, at our base in Melbourne, SEA Electric produces the trucks from Semi Knocked Down (SKD) kits, with the chassis, sub-assembled components, steering, suspension, and driveline mated to a fully trimmed cab as sourced directly from Hino in Japan.
This streamlined process provides efficiencies on multiple fronts over retrofitting, including time and cost, whilst also producing considerably less waste.
Perhaps our biggest achievement to date is the recent launch of the SEA 300-45 model, which will be a game-changer in the rapidly growing last-mile, or home delivery segment.
Critically, this model has been designed and engineered locally, with its 4.5-tonne GVM, meaning that it can be driven on a car licence, greatly expanding the available talent pool for employers.
Another strong suit of the design is its range, which is more than capable of handling a full day of city driving on one charge. The stop-start nature of use plays nicely into the hands of its regenerative braking capabilities, which tops up the batteries every time the truck decelerates.
With the slight weight premium applied by installing a battery-powered electric driveline in a light duty truck, the genius of the design is that it still allows for 2-tonnes of body and freight, which is a desirable proposition for operators.
While the SEA 300-45 is an ideal solution for Australia, its strengths are entirely applicable for any number of markets globally, with the local design principles being transferred to similar projects in North America and SE Asia.
In fact, the entire manufacturing process pioneered in Australia has been made available to the other branches of the company, which can be adapted into their different business models.
North America is clearly a market with tremendous opportunities in the EV space due to government led incentives, with the SEA Electric business strategy there being one of third-party upfit partners and licensing arrangements.
Locally, we continue to push on with our prominent research and development program, which dovetails seamlessly into the international efforts.
Concerning trade opportunities out of Australia, we are currently proceeding with a blended model for our New Zealand arm, where they are taking onboard Australian constructed vehicles, which are supplemented by licensed assembly provided by companies such as Blackwells.
With local production set to accelerate, the possibilities for SEA Electric in Australia are exciting, with high demand and support from the local market.
The beauty of the SEA-Drive Power-System is that it is adaptable for a wide variety of platforms. For instance, our local team has worked with our global partners to develop solutions for a wide variety of vehicle types, including buses, light commercial and delivery vans, with the opportunities being endless.
More and more, governments in Australia are taking environmental leadership, with our customer base growing extensively with many state and local authorities being early adopters of the technology.
Coupled with massive expansion in the nation’s EV charging infrastructure, we are proud to be pioneering the emissions free future of the transport industry.
Bill Gillespie is the SEA Electric President – Asia Pacific, bringing to the company a lifetime of industry experience, including from leadership roles at Hino Trucks Australia, Nissan Australia, Kia Motors Australia and Toyota Motor Corporation Australia.
Read the full article at AU Manufacturing by Peter Roberts published on September 29, 2021.