EVs are in high demand as seen recently with EV Quarter 1 sales for passenger cars. With sales of passenger EVs on the rise, The Driven was invited to see what is happening in the EV commercial vehicles space at SEA Electric which designs, engineers and manufactures EV trucks here in Melbourne, Australia.
The fully 100% electric trucks that SEA Electric produces are based on the tried and tested Hino truck chassis which are renowned in the industry for light trucks – only without the noisy, smelly diesel engine.
On the day, SEA Electric had several of their zero-emission electric commercial vehicles on show to test drive examples that many of us would have seen in as diesel versions on our roads: Last-mile delivery truck, Cherry Picker and Crew Cab Truck for Maintenance Works.
Having been in many trucks (crew cabs, agitators and semi-trailers) as an engineer in my past life, it was refreshing to see the noisy diesel engines finally going electric.
On the inside, the trucks felt exactly like their diesel counterparts but more stable. The stability is due to the lower centre of gravity with the placement of the batteries. This was noticeable in the trips out in the hills of outer southeast Melbourne.
Off the line, most of these trucks were quicker than their diesel counterparts that I have been in many times. It also required less effort to get up to the required speed.
The transmission layout was also fairly well laid out and easy to operate. It didn’t take much time to get used to it and being electric, of course it was automatic.
This may not seem like a big deal but for those working many hours a day delivering goods, it’s a lot less tiring not having a clutch and a manual gearbox found in many current diesel fleets.
Many of the electric trucks we drove had a range of above 200kms with regenerative braking operating in their normal environments – which for many is around the city and suburbs with a bit of freeway driving.
Out of the SEA trucks we tested, one truck in particular was a bit older and has been used by a city council for over 2 years. This was a cherry picker that has been operated by the City of Whitehorse in inner-east Melbourne for maintenance purposes.
This truck had over 30,000kms on the clock and was immaculately kept by the team at Whitehorse council with all the tools and equipment still on board for our test drive. It was so easy to get used to driving it and felt easy to steer through the hills of Upper Beaconsfield.
The fact that this truck had been on the road for 2 years and drove so quietly with no rattles was a good sign in terms of the durability of electric trucks. One other noticeable difference was the lack of vibration that you get in ICE trucks. Being an EV truck, there was barely any vibration apart from the bumps in the roads.
Driving these trucks really help cement the fact that EV trucks are here, and having worked extensively in the transport sector I can see they could also be the answer to solve one of the biggest problems the industry faces – lack of young people wanting to be part of the industry.
Being quieter, easier to drive and with lower vibrations, these zero emission trucks present an opportunity for the industry to transform and be appealing to young people who are truly the future of commercial transport in Australia.
The last mile delivery trucks and the asset maintenance industries will need to make the shift to zero emission vehicles if we have any chance of reducing transport emissions, which today accounts for 19% of all emissions in Australia.
To get us there, we will need to adopt new technologies and the commercial transport sector will need to find solutions quickly. EV trucks from SEA Australia that are made in Australia to Australian conditions, may very well be one of those.
Read the full article at SEA charges up Australian electric truck transition published on April 8th, 2022 by Riz Akhtar.