Victoria-based manufacturer SEA Electric will ramp up its conversion of medium-duty trucks and commercial vans to electric vehicles, using $5 million though the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.
The company has developed three electric drive systems models that can be fitted to commercial vehicles to allow them to be converted to a 100 per cent electric operation.
Its technology can be applied to businesses performing express freight, general delivery, and waste collection duties around Australia.
Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) transaction lead Melanie Madders said it would invest $5 million in SEA Electric through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, to help purchase components and scale up its manufacturing business to meet growing customer demand.
“Electric vehicles are a very exciting part of our clean energy transition, and offer significant potential to reduce our overall carbon emissions,” Madders said.
“Emissions from light vehicles already make up as much as 10 per cent of Australia’s total emissions, with overall transport activity expected to continue to grow in the future.
“The development of cost-effective ways to transition commercial vehicles to lower emissions technologies is paramount for cutting national carbon emissions.”
SEA Electric integrates and assembles electric vehicle drive systems into a basic chassis and framework, including the cab, battery pack and electric motor. SEA Electric also fits the electronic infrastructure of the vehicle.
SEA executive chairman Tony Fairweather welcomed the support of the Clean Energy Innovation Fund in allowing the company to accelerate the deployment of its innovative technology.
“Australia has the potential to become a global leader in the rapidly emerging electric vehicle industry, and this finance will help SEA Electric be part of that revolution,” Fairweather said.
“Vans and medium-duty trucks are suited to electric vehicle technology because businesses using them typically have relatively fixed and known route distances and vehicles return to base overnight, which allows for recharging.
“With ongoing decreases in the cost of lithium batteries, our electric drive systems are becoming increasingly cost competitive with equivalent petrol or diesel engines, which means that businesses using these vans and trucks can consider 100 per cent electric vehicles on a commercial basis as well as for their environmental benefits.”
The Clean Energy Innovation Fund draws on the combined skills and experience of the CEFC and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
“The CEFC and ARENA’s support through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund is critical for us to achieve the next step in our business growth and will help us purchase inventory needed to fulfil orders for our electric vehicles,” Fairweather added.
The CEFC has identified transport-related emissions as a critical focus area, particularly investments in projects that achieve industry leading levels of energy efficiency, and contribute to the productivity of Australia’s cities and regions as part of its Sustainable Cities Investment Program.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were more than three million light commercial vehicles registered in Australia in 2016. Of those, more than 96 per cent used either petrol or diesel.
In addition to the SEA Electric investment, the Clean Energy Innovation Fund has previously invested in Geelong’s Carbon Revolution, which produces the world’s only mass-produced one-piece carbon fibre car wheel.
The wheels are as much as 45 per cent lighter than aluminium wheels, reducing vehicle weight and therefore cutting fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
The Victorian Government announced last year that SEA Electric would receive $516,720 through the New Energy Jobs Fund to support the first stage of its commercial electric vehicle manufacturing facility with the long-term aim of developing an innovative range of electric powered commercial vehicles.