An unveiling by Isuzu at the recent MEGATRANS2018 event probably marks electric trucks coming of age in the Australian truck market. Diesel News delves into the details and discusses the Japanese truck maker’s plans in this area.
The Australian truck market has seen a succession of electric trucks make a play in the Australian market, some with more credibility than others. There are also electric vans appearing in small numbers. However, when the number one truck manufacturer on the Australian market unveils two electric trucks at a major industry event, then the concept of electric power in the trucking industry has legs.
Admittedly, these are prototypes and will be engaged in proof of concept trials before appearing on the roads of Australia in real fleets running real freight, but this is a start. Just having Isuzu involved in this kind of technology publicly means it is going to become a reality more quickly than others assumed.
“How can we embrace or harness disruption to produce an even better product?,” asked Phil Taylor, Isuzu Director and COO at the launch. “How can we improve our offer? arriving at the decision to explore and refine emerging technology, such as electric vehicles seeks to answer these sorts of difficult questions, and above all else, works to better service our customers’ needs.
“Tech revolutions come and go, but the principles of excellent customer service never change. How we deliver this service might, and that’s why we are constantly pushing, testing, analysing and innovating.
“We have now set into motion a concept plan with the intention of delivering the best electric truck for the Australian freight task and all that task entails. Isuzu is now in the EV space.”
The new Isuzu Electric Vehicle
Why are Isuzu in Australia entering into the electric truck fray right now? According to Simon Humphries, Isuzu Chief Engineer Product Strategy, there is a wave of interest in electric vehicles and the performance, in most applications, matches that of diesel. He reckons Australian fleets are showing more than just a passing interest.
“Not a week goes by when we don’t get a call asking us when we will sell an electric truck,” says Simon. “But, a lot of the electric trucks which have been produced have quite a limited range. The balance of payload and range is an interesting balance to manage.
“Our research, has shown the absolute minimum range for any application is 200 km. The telematics data tell us the urban delivery vehicles in big fleets travel about 140 to 160 km each day. The battery technology is improving at such a rate, every six months you get roughly 15 per cent increase in range for the same cost. Alternatively, once you reach the range you’re after, you can reduce the weight and cost. In the light to medium truck space in Australia, we are looking at cost parity between diesel and electric coming along around 2021 to 2023.”
By cost parity, Simon is looking at the cost of leasing a truck to handle a particular task over a period of five years or so. This value incorporates the lower maintenance cost of the truck over this time and the lower operating cost of using electric power over diesel.