Amping up the market
Australia’s electric truck future is on a city road to being realised
hat is it with the first two decades of recent centuries? Perhaps it’s all that pent-up expectation of new dawns and progress and advancement in fine fashion has creative juices flowing.
It is instructive to note that the first 20 years of the 19th century kicked off with Count Alessandro Volta inventing the battery and putting his name to the measurement of electromotive force. Here we are, 200-plus years later, and its use on highways, promised for so long, is now assured.
Ten years later, the first steam locomotive, Richard Trevithick’s, failed due to weight, only for George Stephenson to make the mode happen. A bit further beyond the first two decades, another item to become a feature of logistics undertakings, the electromagnet came into being.
Fast-forward a century and, with a little cheating, we can rope in Rudolf Diesel, who received patent #608,845 for an “internal combustion engine” that bears his name today and, though being challenged forcefully, that engine has life in it for quite a while yet. (Oh, alright, Diesel actually invented the “infernal combustion engine” six years earlier but, then, Volta had worked out using metals to create currents in 1792. These things have roots!)
Windscreen wipers aren’t that much different now from what US polymath Mary Anderson put together in 1903 and the electrical ignition system surfaced In Charles “Boss” Kittering’s workshop eight years later.
Oh, and to stretch this exercise just that tiny bit, again, Czech writer Josef Čapek is credited with coining the term “robot” in 2021.
Some count the number of truck manufacturers in the world by then in four figures. Wikipedia, which has its critics, counts the total number of truckmakers ever at about 370: Europe 197, Asia 74, the US 74, South America 1, Africa 9 and Oceania 14. We would add “at least” to those numbers.
The first two decades of the 21st century can’t hope to match any of these figures but it would be safe to say there has never been such an infusion of new competitors looking to disrupt the diesel truck market with electric propulsion.
Names barely uttered in 2001 are on everyone’s lips as we look to 2020. And Australia is also making its move.
In no small part, this is down to those involved with SEA Electric, and, earlier, Smith Electric Vehicles, who did the hard yards in this country and took in the lessons that needed to be learnt.
Last year, SEA caught the imagination with nine test vehicles placed with Kings Transport in Melbourne for urban delivery uses — for now, e-trucks’ natural Australian habitat. This May, it took another huge step, helping Isuzu Australia Ltd (IAL) press ahead with real-world testing aimed at breaking new ground for the make globally.
When new IAL managing director and CEO Hiroko Yaguchi arrived a year ago, she could have been excused for wondering where this is all going but
ATN detected a note of satisfaction and perhaps excitement with the progress at the public launch event.
IAL will be thorough in its testing and it might not be too much to say that if its tilt fails, that will represent a significant speed-bump for electric propulsion here. Still, it’s hard to imagine IAL coming this far without it having confidence in the concept.
The world has come a long way since Smith Electric Vehicles’ British milk float carried many of the hopes of electric vehicles’ future during the lean times in the middle of the last century, when King Diesel floored all before it.
It is fitting we get here through barely two degrees of separation from that humble conveyance.
“Names barely uttered in 2001 are on everyone’s lips as we look to 2020.”