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Transformer Launched & Yewt Getting Closer — New Electric Vehicles In Australia

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Greg McGarvie gave me an update last week about the project he has been passionate about for the past seven years — establishing an electric vehicle industry in Australia. He has assembled an impressive international team to bring a range of vehicles to market. You can read about his team here, and yes, the Yewt is getting closer! And no, the Dalek did not exterminate them.

He told me that there had been organic growth in reservations for the ACE range of vehicles — the transformer van, the urban, the cargo, and the yewt. ACE has well over AU$13.6 million worth of reservations. He is in negotiations for a site in northern New South Wales (NSW) where the vehicles can be assembled. Eventually, he plans to onshore all production. He says it is a little like when Australia’s Holden first started by assembling parts produced globally. Holden was later bought by General Motors.

The transformer van was launched recently at the Smart Energy conference. The van was warmly received by federal politicians, including Chris Bowen, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, and Independent Senator David Pocock.

Transformer launched

Senator David Pocock and Greg McGarvie at the launch of the Transformer electric van. Photo courtesy of ACE EV.

Getting his vehicles to market has been a battle. Greg told me that at one point he thought he might end up sleeping on a park bench, as all his assets have been poured into the project. Thankfully, with some federal government support, that has not happened. ACE received a AU$5 million grant from the federal government based on Australia’s obligation to the Paris climate accords. Independent Senator for South Australia Rex Patrick has been a staunch advocate and supporter. Greg tells me that the four directors have put in AU$6.46 million of their own money as well.

ACE is working on developing its vehicles to include an energy management system, V2X. “Your ACE vehicle will be set up to power your house and export to the grid,” he tells me. “The V1 Transformer Series is the first out of the blocks, to be followed by the Yewt, Cargo, and Urban. Now we are just waiting for Elon Musk to test drive a Yewt and organise its trip to Mars,” he quipped.

Greg had to submit one of his Transformer vans for crash testing — a quarter-of-a-million-dollar exercise that included the prototype being destroyed to prove its crash worthiness. See video clip here. “The result was a neat energy absorbing crumple, doors will still open and the windscreen is intact. The dummies had a few bruises from the airbags. A vehicle that engenders confidence, the V1 Transformer can be a business on wheels for Australia.”

The first van is expected to be on the road in Australia within the next two months. “I will be very disappointed if we don’t have the rollout of others before Christmas,” he told me. In-house, it is jokingly referred to as an “ambulance.” The designer, Gerhard Kurr, previously designed an ambulance which sits in a museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Well, at least it doesn’t look like a hearse, I thought.

Transformer launched

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese with the ACE Cargo. Photo courtesy of ACE EV.

Two of the founding directors of ACE EV, Gerhard Kurr (from Germany) and Dr Charles Kung (from Taiwan), bring to Australia ownership of Smartcar style intellectual property (IP). This could make Australia a hub for this technology. I asked myself, could Greg McGarvie be Australia’s Elon Musk? Greg built his truly international team using LinkedIn to aggregate some of the world’s technical and software leaders to develop the ACE onboard mobile energy management device.

The Yewt is expected to come off the production line next year, followed by the Cargo and then the Urban. Initially, elements of the vehicles will be produced in Germany, China, and Taiwan and assembled in Australia. The batteries will be sourced from CATL. “Down the track,” the moulds and other production equipment will be brought to Australia for expanding local production.

As president of Electric Mobility Manufacturers of Australia, Greg is in good company — Janus, SEA, Savic, Fonz, Nextport, and OZ DIY, to name a few of its members. Most of these companies have been featured on CleanTechnica.

“EMMA is the collective voice of Electric Mobility Manufacturers of Australia. We are a not-for-profit organisation and our mission is to optimise the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia through a collaboration of innovative electric vehicle manufacturers and supporters.

“Our founding members are all leaders in the EV industry across all sectors including public transport, light commercial and freight. Our aim is to create an EV Ecosystem working in partnership with government to create a charging infrastructure to make Australia a global leader in the electric vehicle space.”

ACE is developing a motor and drivetrain that will be easy to work on — “even for a farmer in the outback during the wet season!” After Aussies have had the joy of owning their own ACE Yewt, Greg and his team are planning to offer the EVs for export. They are targeting those smaller countries which already produce a great deal of green energy but are forced to import fossil fuelled cars and the fuel as well. They are completing due diligence with support and introductions by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the export of their “Smart Pack.”

Transformer launched

The Yewt will soon be available in 2024. Image courtesy of ACE EV.

“We are in limited production, soon full production, I can taste it!” he tells me, and then offers this advice to government: “The government needs to act more like a parent than a bank for innovative manufacturing in Australia. Elon Musk got his start with a long term loan all paid back. Private investors will take courage with a clear government lead — seeing there is appetite and support for local industry.” He has been greatly encouraged by Minister Chris Bowen and Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic. They are urging Australia forward.

Hopefully my next update will show ACE vehicles on the road and going “down the track.”

Featured image courtesy of ACE EV.

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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].


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