Elec­tric Isuzu

Isuzu NQR and FSR models with 200-250km range pro­duced in col­lab­o­ra­tion with SEA Elec­tric

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS R OB M CKAY

Aus­tralian arm of Ja­panese gi­ant to takes lo­cal bat­tery power punt

I suzu Aus­tralia Ltd (IAL) will test two bat­tery elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs) it has de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with Mel­bourne-based EV de­vel­oper SEA Elec­tric. A purely Aus­tralian ef­fort, it is in­de­pen­dent of Isuzu’s Ja­pan­fo­cused Elf EV light com­mer­cial project EV pre­viewed at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show but comes with the bless­ing of head­quar­ters in Tokyo.

The EV pro­gram is fo­cused on prov­ing the 8-9-tonne gross ve­hi­cle mass (GMV) NQR and the 12-14-tonne GMV FSR for ur­ban re­turn-to-base ap­pli­ca­tions.

The NQR will have max­i­mum and con­tin­u­ous power of 130kW (174hp) and 100kW (134hp) re­spec­tively, while those for the FSR are 250kW (335hp) and 150kW (201hp). Max­i­mum and con­tin­u­ous torque is 1,500Nm and 800Nm for the NQR and 2,500Nm and 1,230Nm for the FSR.

Both models will carry 132kWh nickel, man­ganese, cobalt ox­ide (NMC) lithium-ion (li-ion) bat­tery packs pow­er­ing di­rect drive per­ma­nent mag­net mo­tors, rated to 98 per cent ef­fi­ciency.

The bat­tery type used, sourced from Canada and China, was cho­sen for its en­ergy den­sity and abil­ity to stay cooler enough to avoid flam­ing. It is ex­pected to have a bat­tery life of 8-10 years.

The bat­tery packs are stowed be­tween the chas­sis rails, in a sim­i­lar man­ner as SEA test ve­hi­cles trans­port and lo­gis­tics firm Kings Trans­port took up in Mel­bourne a year ago, though the Isuzus are dif­fer­ent beasts from those EVs.

MAR­KET CALL

The op­er­at­ing range sought is 200-250km.

“Our re­search and our ex­pe­ri­ence with CNG trucks over the past 10 or 15 years

has shown that the ab­so­lute min­i­mum for just about any ap­pli­ca­tion, whether it be re­turn to base or any of that ur­ban-type ar­range­ment, is that Aus­tralian op­er­a­tors won’t be com­fort­able un­less they can get at least 200km out of their truck,” IAL chief en­gi­neer and prod­uct strate­gist Si­mon Humphries ex­plains.

Though large-com­pany driv­ers may be­lieve they drive more than that in cities, Humphries says that “the telem­at­ics data sug­gests that ac­tu­ally 140 to 160km a day is all they do”.

On the ad­vances in bat­tery tech­nol­ogy, he has found that roughly ev­ery six months, you get 10 to 15 per cent in­crease in range for the same weight and cost.

“Or, al­ter­na­tively, once you reach the range you’re af­ter, you then re­duce the weight and cost.”

The tare mass is 5 per cent above the equiv­a­lent diesel truck, at present. Cost par­ity with light to medium-duty diesel ve­hi­cles is ex­pected in 2021-22.

“Our tar­get was per­for­mance that matches or ex­ceeds the equiv­a­lent diesel, so we spec­i­fied the elec­tric motor, the bat­tery pack, ev­ery­thing to pro­vide per­for­mance that the driver will not suf­fer by and that will want to drive this truck,” Humphries says.

Mark­ing lo­cal ef­fort out from cer­tain North Amer­i­can recharg­ing strate­gies, such as Tesla’s, the IAL EV es­chews bat­tery charg­ing sta­tions. It fea­tures a 22kW on-board charg­ing sys­tem and ca­bles, which plugs into a stan­dard in­dus­trial 400- 415-volt, 32-amp, three-phase, five-pin socket — a so­lu­tion that is, how­ever, com­pat­i­ble with the Tesla’s grow­ing lo­cal su­per­charger net­work. This aims to al­low for a six-hour recharge from a near-to­tally drained pack.

Ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion num­bers ex­pected to be in the 100s.

“Some of the lo­gis­tics about the base cab-chas­sis are still to be de­ter­mined,” IAL sales and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Har­bi­son says.

“Once vol­umes dic­tate, we will de­ter­mine where the pro­duc­tion is.”

Talks with SEA Elec­tric be­gan “quite some time ago” and devel­op­ment was a sep­a­rate project, though Har­bi­son notes “SEA has cer­tainly taken learn­ing from that and in­cor­po­rated them”.

That said, the IAL project was more heav­ily fo­cused on in­te­grat­ing Isuzu tech­nol­ogy into the new EVs.

“We be­lieve we have the tech­nol­ogy and the know-how to pro­duce the best elec­tric truck,” IAL di­rec­tor and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Phil Tay­lor says.

“It’s now our chal­lenge to en­sure the con­cept be­comes a re­al­ity.”

BAT­TERY BOOM

The im­pe­tus for the move is the con­tin­u­ing fall in costs and rise in power of li-ion bat­ter­ies, which the com­pany points out is mak­ing its as­sump­tions out of date around twice a year.

It points to pro­jec­tions that show li-ion pack costs per kilo­watt hour (kWh) fall­ing from around US$1,000 in 2010 to about US$300 now and close to $100 or less by 2030. This is seen as giv­ing in­creased ur­gency to the global up­take of EVs.

“The elec­tric en­gine of to­day is now a re­al­is­tic pro­posal ow­ing to in­no­va­tions in en­ergy stor­age and bat­tery tech­nol­ogy and con­nec­tiv­ity that all ve­hi­cles to op­er­ate more ef­fi­ciently and over vaster dis­tances,” IAL states. “With higher en­ergy and power den­sity and longer life­span, the in­tro­duc­tion of lithium-ion bat­ter­ies has pro­vided an en­ergy stor­age so­lu­tion far su­pe­rior to most other bat­ter­ies.

“Cost re­duc­tion has been a mas­sive fac­tor. EV bat­tery pack costs re­duce sig­nif­i­cantly be­tween 2010 and 2016, while in that same pe­riod, sales of EVs have in­creased at over 160 per cent.”

Busi­ness con­sult­ing firm McKin­sey pre­dicts the e-truck mar­ket share will reach 15 per cent over­all by 2030 and up to 25-35 per cent of light-duty truck sales in Europe and China. On the bat­tery tech­nol­ogy it­self, IAL sees NMC li-ion in the van­guard but ced­ing ground in the next three to 10 years to high-volt­age bat­ter­ies, solid state ver­sions and those fea­tur­ing lithium-sil­i­con and lithium-sul­phur be­fore lithium-mag­ne­sium makes its pres­ence felt in the late 2020s.

Si­mon Humphries and An­drew Har­bi­son ex­plain the EV strat­egy

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