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.