Janus Trucks Converting Freightliner To Electricity — Seeing Lot Of Demand

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The little boy inside me is excited, very excited. On a recent Zoom call with Lex Forsyth, General Manager of Janus Trucks, he told me that the converted Freightliner Coronado will be in Brisbane on March 7th and I’m invited to go along for a spin!!

Janus announced recently that the second fully electric registered Class 8 prime mover in Australia has just hit the roads. The Janus Electric Freightliner Coronado has exchangeable Janus Side Batteries (JSBs) that can be swapped in 3 minutes. A total of 620 kWh deliver up to 600 km of range out of one charge. The JCM350 Janus Conversion Module delivers 480 HP with no modification required to the exterior of the truck.

This truck is rated for 70 tonnes and will be available for test drives and demonstrations to clients next month.

Electric Motor for Janus truck
Conversion unit for Janus Truck.
Janus Truck Conversion Unit Installed
Electric motor installed.

It has been about 6 months since I last looked at Janus, so I asked Lex Forsyth what had changed. The batteries are now on the sides of the truck, replacing the fuel tanks. Two 310 kW batteries will give the Freightliner a 400–500 km range. Previously, the plan was to place the batteries in the front of the truck, using a forklift to change them out.

Janus Truck side battery
Installing side battery in Janus Truck.

A Brisbane site has been selected and a charging station is under construction. It is expected to be in place by April. Janus is sourcing renewable energy to recharge the batteries. The Port Macquarie site has also been selected. If all goes well, the Brisbane to Sydney route should be open by the end of the year.

The Freightliner is currently being road tested. Members of the public who have come across the vehicle — including the “stop, go” guys at roadworks and local fire fighters — have been amazed at how quiet the truck is. “Geez, it’s quiet, is it on?”

Transport operators will be able to make a sound financial decision about conversion to battery electric for their trucks. On the Brisbane-to-Sydney run, a converted semi will use about $300 dollars worth of electricity compared to $750 worth of diesel and $50 worth of Adblu. “Plus, maintenance on a diesel motor is significantly higher,” Forsyth adds.

Some operators who have heavy duty use (trucks running 7 days a week, 24 hours a day) will have a ROI of about a year. Forsyth expects a 10% reduction in cost for local drivers and a 25% reduction for inter-state runs.

Janus Truck Robotic Battery Changer and Charger
Robotic battery changer.

Forsyth is installing JCM 850 Dana TM4 motors under the bonnet and will use a robotic change bay for fast removal and installation. He already has firm orders for 25 trucks, with about 100 in process of confirmation. These orders are coming from all sectors of the trucking industry, from owner operators to mid-tier transporters to major fleet owners. He is trying to find 36 hours in a day, as demand is outstripping supply. One of Forsyth’s concerns is about energy security for Australia. “We can’t continue to depend on imported fuel — if the boats stop we only have 7 days left,” he said.

For those concerned about “those trucks tearing up the road” — although the weight of the prime mover will be higher, the gross weight (when loaded) will still be the same. A converted electric truck shouldn’t wear the road any more than its original diesel incarnation. Registration costs will also remain the same. Forsyth is awaiting a meeting with Matt Kean to discuss any issues with NSW and will be speaking with Victorian officials about the road usage tax.

The future looks very bright. Forsyth expects to have 50 converted semis travelling between Brisbane and Sydney by the end of the year. By mid-2023, there will be converted trucks carrying loads between Sydney and Melbourne.

Will Forsyth’s Janus be able to keep up? Well, he has a Model S Plaid on order and his mum has a Model 3 Performance, so, yes, I think they will.

Source: Big Rigs

All images courtesy of Janus.


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David Waterworth

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 is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 750 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth