A walk down through Brisbane’s electric avenue

Last year Big Rigs was at the IAA Truck Show in Hanover, Germany – the world’s largest truck show. We were frankly gobsmacked at the plethora of electric trucks on display there.

Over 80 per cent of the product had electric motive power. This equates to dozens, if not hundreds of trucks.

By comparison, the last Brisbane Truck Show (BTS) in 2021 had from memory, just three. There was the Fuso eCanter – the first electric truck to go on sale in Australia. There was SEA Electric with their Hino-based product, and there was Lex Forsyth’s Janus truck.

Two years is a long time in trucking it would appear, if this year’s BTS is any indicator. In 2023 nearly every OEM had some electric on their stand. Here is a walk-through of the offerings. Prepare to be astounded.

The new Kenworth T680, a hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle.

At the official media launch of the show, major sponsor Ampol spoke of its involvement in electrification. The company is in the process of rolling out, in partnership with governments, a range of fast-charging solutions.

It will install around 300 charging bays over the balance of this year and into next for cars and are actively working on what an EV truck fast-charging network might look like.

Whilst Kenworth didn’t have a BEV on show, the brand did display a fuel cell electric truck. Shock, horror no doubt for rusted on KW diesel loving fans. Parent company PACCAR, which also owns DAF, also displayed one of that brand’s EV trucks. Conversely Daimler who have displayed EVs over the past three shows in the form of the Fuso eCanter were bolder.

The company displayed the first Mercedes-Benz heavy duty EV trucks for Australia in the form of the eActros and the eEconic. The M-B products both featured the eAxle which combines electric motor and differential in one unit. These trucks are about to undergo a validation program and Big Rigs expects to sample them in real world conditions in the near future.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks will soon begin local validation programs for the eActros in Australia.

Also featured on the Daimler stand was the second generation Fuso eCanter, again with the eAxle. From the original single model the brand now has a range of different weight ratings, sizes and wheel bases. It will now be available with three different battery pack sizes, dramatically increasing the driving range from the 100km of the original model back in 2017.

Electric featured heavily on the Volvo stand and is the subject of a separate article in Big Rigs (see page 12 of the June 9 print edition). Volvo is the first company to have heavy duty EV vehicles on sale in Australia right now.

Possibly in an effort to beat the rest of the market to the punch, the Volvo’s driveline has the electric motor connected to the differential via a tail shaft. The company informs us that their eAxle is around two years away. Currently fully imported, Volvo will go to local production of EVs in 2027.

Volvo’s other products in Mack and UD had no EV is on display although all trucks on the stand were powered with HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil or Renewable Diesel fuel), which in itself aids in emission reduction.

Isuzu showed their brand-new N-series EV, first revealed in Japan in March. This is the very first factory developed Isuzu zero emission BEV. The company offered no timeline of when a product would be available in Australia.

Founded 10 years ago right here in Australia and having launched their first commercial products in 2017, SEA Electric displayed a vast array of BEV vehicles up to 22.5 tonnes GVM.

The company has vehicles operating in seven countries, with substantial operations now in the US where they have recently been awarded long-term supply contracts for the C-drive power system range with both Mack and Hino, Hino having been a body supplier to SEA Electric since their launch.

The company in the US just recently unveiled a range combining a 250kW battery with either a 30 or 45kW hydrogen fuel cell operating as a range extender. This is truly an Australian success story.

Whilst Iveco’s new S-Way and T-Way models are both diesel powered the company did introduce the new E-Daily BEV for the first time. With a 111kW battery, 140kW of power and 400N metres of torque, the Iveco Daily chassis and rail setup allows the van to have a modular system with its batteries, i.e more as you need them to increase the range.

Iveco believes is has one of the best payload potentials on the market for this type of truck with up to 300km of travel. The E-Daily begins local testing immediately following the BTS and will be conducting research with alternative fuel partners, customers and tertiary institutions.

Foton is a name not many will be familiar with in trucking terms, much less EVs, but this company has held the number one position for 18 years in the Chinese market. Last year it sold over 460,000 commercial vehicles in the local market and internationally. Cumulatively it has now manufactured and sold over 11 million trucks and vans globally.

Foton Mobility is an Australian-owned distributor of the brand with a range of trucks and EV buses plus a new range coming soon of hydrogen prime movers. At BTS the company displayed its T5 EV with a 4.5 tonnes GVM in car licence application and there is there is a 6 tonnes variant for those seeking a larger payload.

The truck on display pairs a striking resemblance to the Cantor trucks. The bigger trucks in China in fact closely resemble the front-end of the M-B Actros. It would appear the company is a fan of Daimler.

It would be foolish however to ignore the brand given its dominance in Asia and other parts of the world, and under the stewardship of Bill Gillespie who brings a wealth of truck industry knowledge, we can expect to see much more of this brand.

Finally we come to Hyundai. The company, with more than 50 years’ experience in the truck industry, is launching its Mighty EV this year.

A 120kW, 320N metres electric motor powered by a 114kW battery, this light duty truck is rated at 7.3 tonnes with a payload of around 3.5 tonnes and has a working range of 200km based on real-world testing conducted here in Australia.

Another EV truck, the X-cent is also coming. If the truck division lives up to the quality of its car division, Hyundai should enjoy success in the bright new world of electric trucking.

From three manufacturers with three trucks at BTS in 2021, this year the show saw 10 manufacturers with some 23 electric truck models. The 2025 show will be very interesting.

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