Kings Transport is banking on a eet future with SEA Electric
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.
SEA TARGETS SMES
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