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Truckies Going Electric in Australia

Diesel ‘til I Die

That might be the clarion call of truckers, but as Dylan said — the times, they are a changin’. Innovative entrepreneurs Bevan Doley and Lex Forsyth of Janus Electric in Australia have pioneered an amazing business to convert diesel trucks to electric and bring many benefits to the blue singlet brigade, including a reduction in noise, vibration, and fumes.

A diesel engine on average needs to be reconditioned every 10 years or 1.3 million kilometers. Instead of rebuilding an old diesel, Janus argues that it is cost-effective to replace it with an electric motor. Especially if you factor in the fuel savings (estimated at 50%) and the resale value of the used motor. And it can be done in a week. 

Janus has thought through the issues in the trucking industry — time is money. You don’t have to wait for the truck to be charged, with swapping stations placed near trucking rest stops and timed to the drivers’ mandatory fatigue breaks, a battery can be swapped out conveniently. It takes 20 minutes to fuel up a big diesel. But it only takes 3 minutes to swap out the battery. 

For example: a forklift slots the giant lithium battery into its slot under the hood of a Kenworth T403, then puts the battery on to charge at the most economical charging rate. Tap it into the grid. Three more class 8 prototype trucks, including a new Kenworth T610, are being prepared and will be tested on the busy route from Brisbane to Sydney during the rest of 2021. That’s 1000 km.

Janus has four change & charge stations between Brisbane and Sydney because current battery packs will only take a loaded B double 400–500 km. The current batteries are expected to last 8 years.

Battery technology is changing rapidly, so Janus rents the batteries to the trucking companies for $140 per 24 hours. This future-proofs the business without tying down the trucking company to outdated technology. 

“Eventually we’ll have batteries that’ll do 1000km, batteries that will do 1500km. The driver will pull up and say ‘I’m going to Melbourne [from Brisbane], give me an 1800km battery. They’ll have that flexibility of choice.”

Janus expects to have its first commercially available electric vehicles on the road next year, and by 2030, the goal is that 50% of the Australian road transport fleet will be electric.

Image courtesy of Janus Electric

 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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