IVECO Australia is investing in a broad range of zero emission vehicles that include light and heavy-duty models with both battery and fuel cell options.
The Italian multinational manufacturer announced its plans at an event organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne last month, around the same time it brought the curtain down on a Dandenong assembly line that had churned out age-old favourites under the International badge, including the iconic ACCO range.
The first of the zero emission models will be a new generation of the Daily Electric van which will be released in Europe later this year.
IVECO hopes to begin local testing of the first Australian electric models in early 2023, using its new Customisation and Innovation Centre (CIC) for localisation, validation and customer testing.
It’s expected that a broad selection of models across various weight classes, will gradually join IVECO’s Euro6 internal combustion product line-up across a three-year period.
Long-time IVECO executive, Marco Quaranta, will lead the project in his new capacity as strategic projects and industry relations manager.
Quaranta said that preparation for the company’s zero-emission product roll-out were progressing well.
“There is considerable preparation involved in introducing such new technologies to market,” Quaranta said.
“We’re working through a detailed pre-launch process to ensure a smooth roll-out of these vehicles – we want to make sure the zero-emission range exceeds customer expectations both in terms of day-to-day operational performance, but more broadly across all facets of vehicle servicing, maintenance and support.”
As zero-emission roll-out preparations progress, IVECO has formed partnerships with several local organisations and bodies, tertiary institutions and government departments.
Quaranta is also hopeful that in 2023 he’ll welcome the first on-road result of the joint venture with the Nikola Corporation, the heavy-duty Nikola Tre, a hydrogen-electric truck which is already being snapped up by European and US fleets.
“Clearly there you can see that there are challenges in regarding infrastructure, in regards to training, certification, total cost of ownership, and source,” said Quaranta.
“We’re working with all stakeholders in the government and training organisation to make it happen and that is basically what I do every day, that is my role.”
Quaranta said 20 staff from the 100-strong roster on the now defunct assembly line had remained with IVECO, while up to another 40 per cent had managed to find positions as a result of a recent jobs fair.
“It becomes difficult to have assembly operations and development around the world with the technology, emission levels, the safety becoming more and more demanding,” he said.
“Therefore, the requirement is to have a central research and development centre and then the intention is to have local adaptation to the Australian conditions, and at the same time have an innovation centre which will look into the future of propulsion technologies, zero emission vehicles, which is very much my job.
“So, some of our staff will remain in the logistics, in the materials, in that space, and then we will create staff with very high skills and training to operation on these very different technologies which will be much more challenging.”