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Australia’s first electric logging truck goes to work in SA

Mount Gambier-based Fennell Forestry has taken the covers off Australia’s first electric logging truck.

The truck – just the second electric truck of its kind in the world – has been commissioned by the local harvest and haulage company to provide a realistic carbon reduction solution for the heavy transport industry.

Fennell Forestry unveiled the truck to stakeholders, government and industry representatives at an exclusive preview event on Tuesday, February 28.

NSW innovators Janus Electric began work on converting the once diesel-powered Kenworth prime mover to a fully electric battery operating system in early 2022. And after rigorous testing, fine-tuning and anticipation, the truck is now at home in Australia’s most productive plantation forestry region – the Green Triangle.

A new charging station has also been installed and tested at Fennell Forestry’s Mount Gambier depot, to ensure the vehicle can be operated and recharged as required.

Depending on operation type, early indications are that the truck will be able to travel between 400-500km on a single charge.

On-road and in-field preliminary testing has also been carried out to ensure the converted Kenworth can handle the demands of forest logging.

Staff inductions have been held, plantation managers briefed and local emergency service crews have also previewed the new technology, ensuring everyone is ready when the truck finally hits the road.

Fennell Forestry managing director Wendy Fennell said the electric truck represented the first bold step towards ensuring heavy transport industry meet the federal government’s 2030 emissions reduction targets.

“We’ve done our groundwork and due diligence, calculating battery power, run time and carbon-emission reduction,” she said.

“Now it’s time to get the truck loaded and on the road to see if the practical application measures up to the theoretical. We think it will, but will be two years before we can say our Australia-first initiative has been a success.

“It’s an educated gamble, but one we feel compelled to take for the benefit of the heavy transport industry and future generations.”

Janus Electric general manager Lex Forsyth has been impressed with how the truck has performed while he’s jumped behind the wheel at Mount Gambier.

“I’ve driven the truck with a load on it and I’m blown away with the performance of it,” Forsyth said.

“It’s phenomenal the torque and the gear-shift and how the vehicle can hold on in the hills and particularly when you’re running through the forest and you want to just have the rejenerative braking as you’re going up and down jump-ups.

“Even taking off in the sand loaded, just having that torque low down just gives the power for the truck to pull away.

“It’s just a remarkable thing to drive.”

Transport is Australia’s second highest contributor to carbon emissions. A single diesel-powered log truck produces in excess of 500 tonnes of carbon every year.

Converting to an electric engine and battery system will slash this number to zero. And when recharging using renewable energy, the environmental dividends will be even greater.

Fast facts:

  • 100 per cent carbon zero when recharged using renewable energy.
  • Existing vehicle conversion. Battery charging technology and operating system installed on an existing truck, allowing reuse of the Kenworth prime mover chassis, axles and suspensions required for Fennell Forestry transport operations.
  • 4 hours for full battery recharge, using the newly established on-site charging station.
  • The truck uses a ‘swap-and-go’ battery system, which requires the truck to be stationary for less than five minutes.
  • 400-500km indicative battery range, dependent on operation type.
  • Low-engine running temperature 40 degrees less than regular diesel engines.
  • 720 horsepower and rated to meet the GCM requirements of Fennell Forestry B-doubles.

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