An Australian company is set to trial electric trucks with interchangeable batteries, which will allow virtually non-stop travel for heavy commercial vehicles traveling along Australia’s east coast.
If successful, the trial could be literally game-changing for the transport industry, and for the fate of electric vehicles in Australia.
Prior to the interchangeable battery trial, trucks were required to plug in and charge for up to 12 hours at a time, which is understandably inconvenient for freight transportation.
The batteries – developed by NSW-based company Janus Electric – can be swapped in three minutes, which is less time than it takes to duck into the servo for a toilet break.
Charge-and-change stations will be implemented along the Brisbane-Sydney trial route to coincide with the regular fatigue break spots like Taree, Coffs Harbour and Preston.
Additionally, drivers will only need to replace the battery every 400 – 600km.
According to Janus Electric’s general manager Lex Forsyth, the process is much more simple than you might think.
“What we’ve been able to do is create a standard battery form factor that can fit in 90% of trucks. You can liken the model to a swap-and-go gas bottle. You don’t care what gas bottle you get, as long as you get your 9kg of gas. That’s how we’ve designed the system,” Forsyth told The Guardian.
“By doing the conversion on existing trucks, and it’s not as difficult as everyone thinks because everything is manufactured to a standard. So there’s commonality between the trucks.”
“It’s remarkably simple, but it’s about being able to bring all the best technology in the one place.”
The new technology will also be beneficial for drivers, with Forsyth asserting that it could help minimise driver fatigue.
“The impact on driver fatigue is huge, because we’ve taken the vibrations and the fumes and the noise out of the truck. They become more like cars to drive,” he said.
“It’s just a quieter, more efficient truck to drive.”
Converting trucks to the new system won’t come cheap, with an estimated cost of approximately $85,000 per truck.
However, truck owners would be able to sell their old diesel engine for $15-25,000 second-hand, which would minimise the overall cost.
Additionally, fleets will be able to lower costs by ending their dependence on fuel, thus passing savings onto consumers.
“We can actually start giving the industry a fixed energy cost. There’s no exposure to the oil market. Most businesses have a fuel surcharge they pass on to customers, but we can fix our cost in for fleet operators,” Forsyth.
Janus Electric will begin taking orders for the battery conversations after Brisbane’s Truck Show, and hopes they’ll have more than 1,000 vehicles converted within five years.