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EV customisation

    Commercial vehicles can be customised to fit electric motors and components into the body to transform the vehicle to an EV. Both heavy freight and light commercial vehicles can be customised to a vehicle that is fit for purpose.

    Customising commercial and passenger vehicles

    It is becoming more common in Australia to customise a commercial vehicle into an electric vehicle. This can be done by either:

    • removing the existing engine and replacing it with electric components
    • fitting electric parts into the truck cab chassis or van.

    It is also possible to convert a traditional passenger vehicle into an electric vehicle. This has been done by a few electric vehicle enthusiasts in Australia but is not common practice. [1]

    SEA Electric provides electric drive systems suitable for 4-6m delivery vans (4-8m³), 5-7m delivery vans (6-10m³) or 15 seater commuter buses.

    Procurement for a commercial electric vehicle

    Currently, procurement for a commercial electric vehicle is not easy in Australia, and customisation is usually required to make the vehicle fit for purpose. There are currently 600,000 heavy vehicles in Australia: 500,000 rigid trucks that are candidates for electrification and 100,000 articulated trucks that are not yet suitable for electrification.

    Factors influencing the uptake of customised commercial electric vehicles include:

    • decreasing battery cost and weight
    • increasing the range or payload. [2]

    Benefits of heavy electric vehicles

    There are many benefits of heavy electric vehicles:

    1. Quieter: Many local governments enforce noise restrictions [3] at night-time for heavy vehicles, to restrict compression braking in residential areas. Electrification allows businesses with noise related curfews to deliver beyond normal delivery hours (such as supermarket operators).
    2. Nicer to drive: Electric trucks and garbage units provide full power and torque from standstill, with lower driveline induced vibrations. [4] The lower noise levels also reduce stress for drivers in traffic.
    3. Cleaner: With zero emissions, electric trucks can have a significant impact on pollution levels and air quality.
    4. Cheaper to run: while initial purchase cost for the electric vehicle is higher, there are no petrol/diesel costs and maintenance costs are reduced due to the efficiency and weight of the vehicle, thereby reducing the total cost of ownership to cost parity or less.

    SEA Electric

    Victorian manufacturer SEA Electric has developed an electric drive system called SEA-DriveⓇ that can be fitted to commercial vehicles to allow them to be converted to 100% electric operation.

    Source: SEA Electric

    The technology can be applied to freight, general delivery and waste collection vehicles. [5] Heavy vehicles that are currently fitted with SEA-Drive include Iveco, Isuzu, Hino, Mercedes Benz, Dennis Eagle, and Ford.

    SEA Electric is building an assembly plant in Latrobe Valley after receiving significant Victorian Government support in October 2018 to assemble 100% electric commercial vehicles, expected to be operational by 2021. [2]

    See how companies have transitioned to an electric fleet in our EV case studies.