New South Wales based Janus Electric is taking the covers off its potentially revolutionary exchangeable battery system for heavy vehicles, a system the company hopes will cut energy costs by 50% and incentivise the trucking industry to electrify.
Janus Electric, based out of Berkeley Vale on the New South Wales Central Coast, was founded in 2019 and is led by co-founder Bevan Dooley and general manager Lex Forsyth.
The company’s aim is electrifying the trucking industry, but instead of relying on rechargeable battery-powered big rigs, Janus Electric has developed a patented exchangeable battery system which negates the need for lengthy recharge times by allowing batteries to be swapped out in three minutes.
In advance of displaying their first prototype truck – an electric converted Kenworth T403 – at the Brisbane Truck Show being held between May 13 and 16, Dooley and Forsyth spoke to several industry outlets, describing their innovative technology as a gamechanger for the transport industry globally.
“Janus Electric has solved the scale, price-point and battery technology challenge for conversion to electric,” said Forsyth, speaking to Big Rigs. “We want to lead the transition to electric heavy vehicle road transport in Australia, and we want Australian businesses to be at the forefront of this next phase of road transport globally.”
Janus Electric’s battery exchange system is currently designed for Class 8 Prime Movers and, though the lithium-ion batteries – which measure in at 2-metres by 1.2-metres – cost $AU120,000 apiece, the company has developed a per-use business model that is aimed at reducing upfront investment for operators.
Users can either pay $110 per battery use, or $140 per 24 hours, and instead of having to charge the batteries themselves, operators simply swap the batteries out for freshly charged batteries at one of the charge-and-change stations along the route.
The current trial route runs from Brisbane to Sydney and will boast charge-and-change stations located strategically to coincide with existing mandatory driver fatigue breaks. Initial stations will be located at Hemmant in Brisbane, Taree and Coffs Harbour on the Pacific Highway, and Prestons in Sydney.
But, as Forsyth hopes, “Ultimately there will be a national network of change and charge stations.”
The big rig batteries are estimated to provide your average B-double – a prime mover attached to two semi-trailers linked by a fifth wheel – with anywhere between 400 and 500-kilometres per charge, while some smaller applications will likely be able to eke out 600-kilometres.
In terms of costs, modelling done by Janus Electric and revealed by Forsyth suggests that running a diesel prime mover along the Sydney to Brisbane route would cost around $AU980. In comparison, however, the Janus battery system would cost somewhere between $AU525 and $AU550, which includes battery hire for the day.
Of course, converting a prime mover to a Janus battery-powered system would still cost around $AU85,000, but Forsyth is quick to remind people that users would nevertheless break even in just a year – assuming you can sell the same engine for $20,000 and you make 250 runs a year from Brisbane to Sydney.
Such a conversion to a Janus battery system takes less than a week.
“This means fleet operators can cost-effectively undertake mass electrification of their entire fleet for the same cost of re-working a diesel engine,” Forsyth said.
“There are substantial cost savings to fleet electrification. The Janus solution can deliver up to a 30 per cent reduction in maintenance and operating costs. There are positive benefits for the drivers fatigue management and overall health and well-being with the Janus conversion from diesel to electric through the reduction of vibration, noise and harmful fumes.”
Beyond the Brisbane Truck Show, Janus Electric is looking to test another four prototypes along the pacific Highway starting later this year with the aim of generating 250,000-kilometres of additional performance data.