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Janus Electric charging station fire quickly brought under control

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NSW-based pioneers of electric truck conversions in Australia, Janus Electric, is confident it will soon rectify the fault that caused a charging station fire at its Central Coast base last week.

Three fire trucks from Fire and Rescue NSW were called to the Berkeley HQ on March 15, but no staff were injured, or electric trucks damaged in the fire which was quickly brought under control.

“This is what happens when you’re developing technology,” said general manager Lex Forsyth.

“The incident occurred in a prototype charging station that we were doing testing in. It wasn’t a truck or an active charge station.

“It was an unfortunate incident but it was handled very well and in a controlled environment. There was no damage to site, other equipment, or people injured.”

Meanwhile, the NHVR and WorkSafe have been contacted, and all Janus Electric converted trucks in fleet service [around 15] have been temporarily grounded as a precaution until the investigation into the cause has concluded.

The charging station under investigation was being tested for its ability to charge in extreme temperature environments. With data already being analysed, Forsyth said he’s “very confident” of a speedy resolution to the probe.

“We’re looking at the design of the charge station and looking through the battery that was in the charge station at the time,” Forsyth said.

“Pending the results of the investigation we’ll then put a timeframe on when the fleet can return to the roads, but it’s going to be sooner rather than later.”

Late last year a Janus Electric converted prime mover caught fire on the West Gate Freeway.

Data recovered from the truck showed that a single failed cell, one of 1050 cells in the Janus battery packs, went into a “thermal runaway”. The issue has since been engineered out.

“There are always going to be incidents in one way, shape or form with any new technology, or even existing technology,” Forsyth said after this latest incident.

“The big thing around it is how do we control these from happening and how do we perform the tests to prevent this from happening in non-controlled environments.

“To label it as unsafe, it would mean we need to label every diesel truck as unsafe because of the amount of diesel truck fires.”

Forsyth said there’s an “energy transition” happening in all shapes and forms today, right around the globe.

“There are more electric vehicles being produced in China now than there are internal combustion engines. That threshold has already been crossed.

“You’ve got to test and push boundaries to be able to get an outcome that’s beneficial for us as a country, and that’s the way we look at it.

“For us, it’s about how do we improve the safety of our product and how do we make it viable for Australia. The reality of it is, the overseas imported product that are coming in are not value-adding to Australia.

“It’s our money heading offshore. We’re not supporting our local economy.”

Early results are encouraging with Qube’s road train configuration in WA. Image: Janus Electric

Janus Electric continues to expand its network of battery charging stations with a new site just opened in Adelaide last week to be used by Diamond Bros. and Symons Clark Logistics.

“We’ve got a road train in operation in WA at the moment that’s working out of Bunbury with Qube,” added Forsyth.

“It’s showing some fantastic regen results. It’s one of those great operations where you’re running uphill and coming downhill loaded and we’re seeing some massive regen opportunities there.

“The feedback from the driver was that he’s blown away by the regen coming down, it’s a gear better coming down the hill than what it is in a diesel and no brake application.”

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