Sea change

Kings Trans­port is bank­ing on a eet fu­ture with SEA Elec­tric

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS ROB McKAY

Kings Trans­port is bank­ing on a eet fu­ture with SEA Elec­tric’s small and medium rigids and vans

Kings Trans­port and Lo­gis­tics has be­gun re­ceiv­ing its first fully elec­tric Aus­tralian-made com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles from man­u­fac­turer and con­ver­sion spe­cial­ist SEA Elec­tric.

In line with its en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial poli­cies and with a view to op­er­a­tional gains, Kings aims to pro­gres­sively re­place en­gine-driven ve­hi­cles where elec­tric propul­sion suits par­tic­u­lar routes, Kings Group CEO Tony Mel­lick told an au­di­ence of in­dus­try and po­lit­i­cal iden­ti­ties.

“This is an ex­cit­ing day for Kings Trans­port,” Mel­lick says, stand­ing be­fore a unit sport­ing the com­pany’s new liv­ery.

“These new SEA Elec­tric trucks will con­trib­ute to the com­pet­i­tive­ness of our trans­port fleets and the sus­tain­abil­ity of our busi­ness op­er­a­tions. We are com­mit­ted to our car­bon-neu­tral com­pany fleet pol­icy and we look for­ward to of­fer­ing sus­tain­able trans­port so­lu­tions to our cus­tomers.”

In a flex­i­ble agree­ment, Kings has agreed to take three each of SEA’s 8-11-tonne gross ve­hi­cle mass (GVM) light rigid EV10, 12-15-tonne medium-rigid EV14 and the E4V elec­tric light van. That di­vi­sion of ve­hi­cles may change but the trans­port and lo­gis­tics firm is ex­pected to re­ceive vans in Septem­ber.

No de­ci­sion on the 17-tonne GHEV – based on a Hino chas­sis – has been made, though one for waste trans­port has been or­dered by a com­pany in New Zealand.

Mel­lick tells ATN the nine will be based in Mel­bourne, where the range of close to 200km “hits the sweet spot for us here”.

That said, he re­veals that the com­pany is mulling a Bluescope Steel re­quest for sev­eral units for Perth op­er­a­tions where noise has be­come an is­sue. The cost to Kings re­mains un­clear. “The price is com­mer­cially sen­si­tive; how­ever we can say that over five years, our mod­el­ling shows that the to­tal cost of own­er­ship for our elec­tric fleet is equiv­a­lent, if not bet­ter than, tra­di­tional com­bus­tion ve­hi­cles,” a Kings spokesper­son says.


SEA’s ve­hi­cles are be­ing made in Mel­bourne, with assem­bly tech­ni­cians and en­gi­neers in­stalling pro­pri­etary SEA-Drive tech­nolo­gies for state, na­tional and re­gional mar­kets and ca­pa­ble, the com­pany says, of recharge in up to six hours.

Kings says it linked with SEA last year, “pro­vid­ing ad­vice and as­sis­tance to op­ti­mise lo­cal con­tent, ve­hi­cle spec­i­fi­ca­tions and cab confi gu­ra­tions to de­liver the most suit­able product to their clients and the broader Aus­tralian and New Zealand mar­ket”.

SEA ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Tony Fair­weather paid trib­ute to its T&L part­ner in ex­press­ing his de­light at reach­ing the mile­stone.

“It is even more pleas­ing that we share this day with Kings Trans­port and Lo­gis­tics, who un­der­stand the strate­gic and com­mer­cial com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage that elec­tric ve­hi­cles bring to trans­port fleets,” Fair­weather says.

He thanked state en­ergy and en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Lily D’Am­bro­sio for the gov­ern­ment’s sup­port through its New En­ergy Jobs Fund, say­ing the firm is “ap­pre­cia­tive of the vi­sion that has led to sup­port for new en­ergy and tech­nol­ogy busi­nesses such as ours”.

At the same time, he laments the gen­eral Aus­tralian trans­port in­dus­try’s ret­i­cence in tak­ing ad­van­tage of ad­vances in elec­tric propul­sion and the lack of public pol­icy pre­scrip­tions that would help

make such a take-up at­trac­tive to po­ten­tial buy­ers – par­tic­u­larly as they are preva­lent in other ad­vanced coun­tries, not least as anti-pol­lu­tion mea­sures.

Aside from the typ­i­cal re­bates, stamp duty and reg­is­tra­tion re­duc­tion op­tions, Fair­weather touched on busway ac­cess, greater mass al­lowance for EVs, spe­cial CBD ac­cess and free tolls as op­tions prospec­tive EV own­ers would find at­trac­tive.


Fair­weather re­veals that SEA’s tar­get was the “small to medium-sized com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle seg­ment, where trans­port ser­vices busi­nesses op­er­ate rel­a­tively fixed route ap­pli­ca­tions with overnight lay­over, which is the per­fect ap­pli­ca­tion for EVs.

“Bat­tery and com­po­nent cost re­duc­tions are now en­abling EVs to be pro­cured on an eco­nomic re­turn ba­sis, with en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits a sub­stan­tial ad­di­tional benefi t.”

This tilt is bol­stered by an es­ti­mated fourto six-hour bat­tery recharg­ing sched­ule.

SEA has a flex­i­bil­ity of man­u­fac­ture aim built in, with suit­able orig­i­nal equip­ment maker (OEM) chas­sis in the mix.

“Our tech­nol­ogy is adapt­able to en­able ease of retro­fit to other prod­ucts of sim­i­lar sizes, re­sult­ing in vol­ume tech­nol­ogy li­cens­ing to large OEM man­u­fac­tur­ers of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles be­ing a strate­gic in­tent for SEA Elec­tric in the fu­ture,” Fair­weather says.

The ex­am­ple on dis­play at the event was a Hino 500 con­ver­sion, dubbed GHEV and fit­ted with SEA-Drive pow­er­trains, for waste man­age­ment work in New Zealand. Also in the works is an Iveco ACCO project.

“This is not just pos­si­ble now, it’s

in­evitable,” he says of quiet, emis­sion­less house­hold waste trans­port.

“The tech­nol­ogy is bet­ter now and cheaper now than ever and fore­cast to be sub­stan­tially more ef­fi­cient at one-third of the cur­rent cost by 2020. This is why the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine will soon be no more.

“And an Aus­tralian elec­tric ve­hi­cle in­dus­try could more than off­set the loss of Aus­tralia’s pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, with many of the com­po­nents we still need to im­port read­ily de­vel­oped and sup­plied by Vic­to­rian com­pa­nies with enor­mous ex­port po­ten­tial .”

In ad­dress­ing event guests, Fair­weather made plain his and the com­pany’s be­lief that, nearly three years down the track, it is on the right side of his­tory, not­ing in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine bans be­ing con­sid­ered over­seas by 2030 and Volvo’s 2020 hy­brid or fully elec­tric pas­sen­ger car pledge.

In MD Glenn Baird and Fair­weather, Aus­tralian- owned and op­er­ated SEA has per­son­nel roots with the Avia tilt at the Aus­tralian mar­ket that fea­tured in the 2013 Bris­bane Truck Show, along with the Avia-plat­form Smith New­ton all- elec­tric truck, one unit of which saw more than two years of ser­vice with Toll.

SEA has used the Toll test ve­hi­cle as a base unit to iden­tify im­prove­ments needed in con­junc­tion with Deakin Univer­sity, which was thanked for help­ing SEA Elec­tric com­mer­cialise its tech­nol­ogy.

Above: SEA ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Tony Fair­weather ad­dresses the gath­er­ing, with SEA MD Glenn Baird, state en­vi­ron­ment and en­ergy min­is­ter Lily D’Am­bro­sio and Kings CEO Tony Mel­lick in at­ten­dance

Be­low: The GHV’s dual-con­trol cab

Above: The EV10 that’s on its way to Kings Trans­port sports the com­pany’s new liv­ery

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