Australian electric vehicle company Nexport has a grand vision for Australian made electric vehicles, with a range that includes passenger vehicles, buses and trucks, company founder and CEO Luke Todd tells The Driven.
Nexport is aiming to leverage a deal to supply the Sydney bus network with all-electric buses to establish a local manufacturing base producing electric buses, cars and trucks within Australia, integrating technology licenced from Chinese EV giant BYD.
Nexport has been chosen to join the NSW government’s public bus procurement panel, which the operator’s of the state’s public transport operators can draw upon to purchase buses for the public fleet, and the company is already undertaking to fulfil orders for 115 buses, and looking to supply more.
The company announced the plans at an event overlooking Sydney Harbour, attracting interested investors, politicians and a number of electric vehicle fans. Present at the launch, highlighting the history of electric vehicle production in Australia, was a model of the 1959 Model 100E Ford Prefect that had been modified by Australian Ray Dooring in the 1960s to run on an electric motor.
The company is currently assembling buses through overseas operations in China and Malaysia, with some parts being sourced from Switzerland, but is looking to move as much as this manufacturing onto Australia shores as part of its next batch of bus orders.
“Everything that is currently happening in Malaysia, as of our next batch of vehicles, will actually be built in New South Wales,” Todd told The Driven. “So we’re creating a platform where we’ll able to create roughly 2,000 jobs that we’ll be creating in Moss Vale.”
“We’ll be doing roughly 95 per cent of the content locally, so it will be the body manufacturing, the all of the trimmings, glaziers.”
Todd said that Nexport said that it was already looking to expand its offering to other classes of vehicles, including passenger vehicles and trucks. Nexport has already launched an all-electric spin-off, with a fleet of 120 taxis already deployed in Sydney.
“We have a whole truck division that will be making some further announcements later, focused on the 4.5 tonne and under range, targeting the market for home delivery type vehicles,” Todd added.
“Today we launched a concept called Taxi 25, which is an initiative where we want to lead the whole taxi industry across the whole country to zero emissions taxis by 2025. There’s 25,000 taxis in Australia, and we want to see them all replaced with zero emission vehicles by the end of 2025.”
The company has already secured around $700 million in backing to establish the manufacturing facility, including investment from Sydney businessman and chairman of Sydney Roosters NRL Club, Nick Politis, facilitated through the TrueGreen investment group.
Nexport plans to unveil a further seven bus models for the Australian market, working to integrate electric vehicle technology under a partnership with Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD.
In taking steps to establish a manufacturing base in Australia, Nexport has already secured a licensing arrangement with BYD, and will look to use BYD technologies in its locally assembled buses, which will continue to utilise a BYD chassis.
“Our partnership with BYD is becoming stronger. We are launching another seven new bus vehicles into the market as well. We also announced to an Australian designed and manufactured chassis that we plan to integrate with BYD technology to increase the local content,” Todd said.
The announcement was welcomed by NSW transport minister Andrew Constance, who said that emissions reduction policy, including support for electric vehicles, had been politicised for too long.
“We’re very passionate about the incredible benefits that electric buses bring, not only in an amenity sense to the community, but it’s good for our health, and for our environment,” Constance said. “Regardless of if you believe in climate change, this is the smart thing to be doing. It’s good for everybody.”
“You know, for those, like myself, having gone through the incredible fires events last summer; I know that climate change is playing a role in catastrophes that people start to see across the globe. And we’ve got to be smart about this.”
“I think the key thing for us is these are the types of things that our community love, regardless of your viewpoint, and we want to be able to support the manufacturers, the operators, for the future,” Constance added.
Todd said that Nexport had chosen the Moss Vale location for its bus manufacturing facilities, as it was ideally located between Sydney and Canberra, where the company sees the strongest demand for all-electric bus models being driven by attractive government policy.
“New South Wales and the ACT have been the two leading state and territories as far as the transition to electric vehicles,” Todd said.
“We plan to work with the government in the ACT and they’ve just recently been elected and we’ll be having a meeting with them soon about upgrading their fleet. They’ve announced a tranche of around 90 vehicles in their first tranche, and we’d love to build them nearby in New South Wales.”