Electric vehicle, EV, News, Zero emissions

$12.8 million to help put owner drivers on the path to electric trucks

A fleet of 112 battery electric trucks are set to hit the road in metro areas thanks to $12.8 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Driving the Nation Fund.

Touted as Australia’s first battery-electric vehicle (BEV) trucks to make last-mile deliveries, they will used to service operations by freight and logistics provider ANC.

ANC will use the funding to unlock the $45.5 million Project Spark, which aims to address barriers in electrifying the truck owner-driver segment to further drive fleet decarbonisation.

According to ARENA CEO Darren Miller, Project Spark marks ARENA’s first foray into last-mile deliveries and builds on the agency’s investments in the electrification of buses, and road freight and logistics.

“The breadth of innovation in Project Spark, across both supply and demand-side measures, is commercially astute, practically workable, and very exciting,” said Miller.

“It promises to kick-start a step change in electrifying last mile delivery in Australia by lowering the total costs to own and run electric trucks.

“The project demonstrates use cases for battery electric trucks in last mile operations, tackling constraints that have so far made it hard for the industry to transition away from internal combustion engine vehicles.”

ANC manages a network of contracted owner-drivers to provide last mile delivery services to some of Australia’s major retail brands including IKEA, JB HI-FI, The Good Guys, Bunnings, Who Gives A Crap, Temple and Webster, and William Sonoma.

The company says that owner-drivers considering BEV trucks currently face higher capital costs, limited access to charging infrastructure, costly and complex private charging options, and constrained revenue potential.

ANC designed Project Spark to leverage commercial and technological levers to lower the total cost of ownership of BEV trucks for owner-drivers, supported by a range of partners including CarBon, Origin Energy, SpotLumos and others.

ANC’s proposal to offer discounted trucks with leasing options, improve battery-charging and vehicle-utilisation models, and unlock new revenue streams aims to resolve these challenges.

Project Spark’s charging model couples Origin Energy’s overnight charging-as-a-service from home with fast-charging services at depots and in the public to enable owner-drivers to meet last mile delivery requirements.

ANC CEO Joe Sofra explained: “This grant from ARENA is a vote of confidence in ANC’s vision for a cleaner, greener future.

“With this support, we will expedite the deployment of battery electric vehicles, reducing emissions and leading the charge towards a net zero emissions delivery ecosystem.

“We are poised to make a substantial impact on the market, and more importantly, on the environment. We thank ARENA for their support in helping ANC drive this pivotal shift in the industry.”

ANC chief growth and sustainability officer Mo Abbas said: “Our commitment to lead the energy transition transcends fleet conversion and includes a pursuit to find innovative ways to solve urban gentrification challenges, overcoming resistance to change and routing for the shortest possible route to customer to reduce carbon emissions.”

The Australian Government’s Driving the Nation Fund put $500 million on the table to invest in cheaper and cleaner transport, including in charging innovation and fleet decarbonisation.

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