The first fully electric, zero emission delivery van in Australia is now available to freight and taxi operators who want to not only reduce their fleet running costs but benefit from the gains of being an environmentally friendly operator.
The large capacity E4V van, the driveline of which has been developed by Melbourne-based SEA Electric, was officially made available last weekend after successfully completing trials that achieved a 400km range.
The vans, which are built on glider vans imported from one of the world’s largest van manufacturers, XGD, use SEA Electric’s proprietary powerchain, the SEA-Drive, which the company uses in all its 100 per cent electric transport vehicles.
The E4V, also available as a 14-seat minivan, is the first of SEA Electric’s delivery vehicles, and was joined by the company’s E4B 12-seater model in the successful 400km range trials.
The powerchain technology is not limited to vans however, as managing director Tony Fairweather tells RE.
“The technology can power commercial vehicles from the delivery van size, up to Australia’s largest rigid 6×4 vehicles at 23.5t,” he says.
Fairweather adds that while they are pleased about the 400km range trials, the vans are aimed at the metropolitan delivery and pickup market which requires more like 200km per day.
“We are confident that this equates to the majority of vans sold in this 25,000pa market. Also minivan shuttle services and maxi-taxi’s for our E4B model,” says Fairweather.
What that means is that they will be able to work towards reducing the size of the batteries and hence also running costs.
“As much as we are very happy from the optimisation efforts of our SEA-drive technology, we are also benefiting from the regular cell density improvements that are being offered by our supplier,” Fairweather tells RE.
“Range is not an issue in this pick-up and delivery segment any more, and we are planning on battery size reductions in the near future to further improve cost and payloads,” he continues.
The environmental benefits of course are also undeniable, Fairweather adds, while charging the vans using the on-board charger and a standard 3 phase, 32amp power point (as compared to electric buses which require special charging infrastructure) at night also means less charging costs.
“Our products are zero emission, and although some may argue the impact of coal-fired power stations, our segment is typically charging during off-peak periods, when excess power is available,” Fairweather explains.
It’s the reduction in fleet costs he thinks will drive Australian operators to get on board the switch to EVs, adding that the introduction of financial incentives by policy makers would fast track the uptake of commercial electric fleets.
“Our market focus is on products that have a greater financial return to for our customers, as the total-cost-of-ownership is now less than that of a diesel product,” he says. “Yes it is cheaper to buy SEA-drive powered electric commercial vehicle than a diesel equivalent when understanding the true cost model.”
With the E4V now available, next stop for SEA Electric is to launch a range of rigid 100 per cent electric delivery vehicles to FMCG distributors within the Melbourne metropolitan area in the very near future.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.