If ever collaboration was needed it’s in the electric vehicle-meets-charging infrastructure space, and today the private St Baker Energy Innovation Fund (StBEIF), owner of charge-point operator Evie Networks (among other e-mobility- related investments), announced a $20 million investment in and partnership with TrueGreen Mobility, which has simultaneously launched its first mass-market commercial e-van into the market.
TrueGreen Mobility has the exclusive contract to distribute Chinese brand BYD electric vehicles in Australasia, and is taking orders for its first release, the BYD T3, with 800-kilogram carrying capacity, 100 km/h max speed and 300-kilometre range on a single charge (280 km when loaded to full capacity) — for delivery in September this year.
“As a business we’ve been pushing very hard to bring the right products to market,” TrueGreen Mobility CEO Luke Todd told pv magazine Australia.
Industry-lauded LFP battery technology
BYD’s new Blade Battery lithium-iron-phosphate chemistry was the clincher he says, with its 50.3 KWh capacity, and ultra-safe design which has passed stringent heat and piercing tests.
The Blade Battery is described by BYD as “high longevity”, and is claimed to efficiently handle 3,000 charging/discharging cycles, or be capable of covering 1.2 million kilometres, over its life cycle.
With the right battery on board, Todd says that, “The partnership with the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund allows us to bridge the critical gap in people’s reasons for not buying electric vehicles, which is access to charging infrastructure.”
Evie Networks, and ultra-fast charging technology manufacturer, Tritium (in which StBEIF also has an interest), “are about to move into their Metro phase, which will see hundreds of chargers installed in city and suburban areas over the months and years to come”, says Todd.
Taking it to the e-commerce streets
TrueGreen Mobility is in discussions with industry players such as e-commerce companies and their delivery contractors, where Todd says there has been pent up demand over the past two years for an emissions-free vehicle.
He estimates there are 3.4 million vehicles of 4.5 tonne or under plying Australian roads, of which around 70% are six years or older and entering the replacement stage of their lifecycle.
TrueGreen is issuing a “call to arms” to Australian operators with fleets that are high polluting, and doing a lot of kilometres around suburban and city streets, to decarbonise their vehicles, and consider installing depot charging infrastructure from Evie Networks.
Trevor St Baker says the partnership between Evie Networks, “installing Tritium ultra-fast chargers at key transportation hubs across Australia” and TrueGreen Mobility, “providing affordable and reliable vehicles”, means “Australia has reached the point of mainstream transition to zero-emission vehicles”.
The main internal combustion engine competitor to the BYD T3, says Todd, is the Toyota HiAce, which retails new at around $45,000, where the BYD T3 will come in at a fleet price of around $35,000.
“A switch to EVs makes perfect economic, commercial, environmental and moral sense,” urges Todd, who adds that e-commerce and similar high-mileage industries will significantly benefit from the lower operating costs and more efficient transport options offered by electric commercial vehicles.
And an online factory-to-consumer sales model
TrueGreen is currently displaying the BYD T3 on its new open consumer-sales platform EVDirect.com.au, which it hopes will become the new online factory-to-consumer sales model for electric vehicles of all makes in the passenger and commercial space.
On EVDirect, buyers can also kick the tyres of the BYD EA1 Hatch, a passenger EV that will be available for order within a week.
The next light commercial vehicle to roll into this online showroom will be from Nexport, a sister company to TrueGreen Mobility, which is contracted to supply 70 electric buses to the New South Wales Government as part of its fleet upgrade to electric-drive vehicles.
The Nexport Logistics Truck, designed and engineered by Nexport itself, is a 4.5-tonne electric delivery truck with a 2-tonne payload, and will be launched in August.
Millions upon millions to electrify transport
Todd told pv magazine Australia that the $20 million investment by StBEIF in TrueGreen Mobility “is a figure”, but that the coming together of the two companies is the enabler of a “mass transition to electric vehicles, whether it’s commercial or consumer.
“Over the next 12 to 18 months Evie Networks is investing 10s to 100s of millions of dollars in rolling out their network. That’s why we’re making a big, big announcement, because we need Australian industry to get in behind us and support what we’re doing.”
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