In 2017, SEA Electric began performing transmission swaps on existing internal combustion engine (ICE) trucks, and now, at its immaculate Melbourne factory, has decided to install its patented SEA-Drive power system on new Semi Knocked Down Chassis Cab (SKD) kits sourced from Hino.
The new range carries the latest SEA Electric badging and branding, with its own compliance plate and a full three-year factory warranty.
Hino cabs are fully trimmed and finished vehicles are almost indistinguishable from their parentage.
This move to series production in Australia has seen SEA Electric become the country’s latest OEM, with the trucks available through a nationwide network of established and accredited dealers, and fully backed by a comprehensive aftermarket package including warranty guarantees. factory and roadside service through NTI. Truck assistance.
Australia’s road freight sector accounts for 38% of the country’s total emissions in the transport sector and electric vehicles are expected to play an increasing role in the journey to net zero by 2050.
Operationally, lower maintenance and running costs are possible with electric trucks, the cost of diesel fuel consumption being eliminated, and by having fewer moving parts, service costs are minimized with SEA Electric scheduling a four-hour routine inspection at a dealership every six months.
Minimal service brake wear will be an added reward given the use of regenerative braking available when the engine is over-revving. Using standard off-peak electricity prices of 15 cents per kWh, SEA Electric says it currently costs about $14 a day to recharge from the grid, and even less if solar power is used.
SEA Electric’s facility in Melbourne is now powered by a 100 kW rooftop solar power system. Future-proof with a scalable plug and play architecture, the SEA-Drive power system can be charged using 3-phase 415-volt power through the truck’s standard on-board charging equipment, with a Optional DC fast charging also available.
The fast charge option allows for a four times faster charge rate than standard and offers top-ups that extend range during driver breaks or vehicle charging.
The electric motor used in the SEA 300/45 model passenger license category delivers an impressive torque of 700 Nm and a power of 140 kW. The largest range of SEA 500 medium electric trucks are available in 4×2 or 6×2 axle configurations with a maximum body length of 8930mm and a GVM range of between 15 and 22.5 tonnes.
The powertrain is currently available in four specifications, ranging from 180hp/700Nm to 470hp/3,500Nm, with different battery capacities available between 88kWh and 220kWh.
The initial focus of SEA Electric trucks includes applications associated with municipal and regional local government authorities and includes tippers, refuse compactors and elevated work platforms.
First and last mile delivery operations are also a logical target and IKEA was one of the first Australian users of SEA Electric trucks. “Many of these large fleets use their vehicles for less than half of a 24-hour day.
The balance is spent on depots, where rooftop solar panels can generate enough power to fully recharge their batteries,” says Tony Fairweather, Founder and CEO of SEA Electric.
The batteries are located between the frame rails to achieve a low center of gravity and to protect the batteries from accidental damage from items such as errant bollards or forklifts.
During a series of brief road tests, two factors stand out when driving the SEA Electric trucks: the exceptional initial torque which is available instantly from start-up and the quiet operation of the trucks.
With the windows open and the radio off, the only noticeable noise is from the air conditioning fan and with the windows down, the hum of tires on the pavement is the most noticeable sound.
Inside the cabin, the familiar multimedia unit found in most Japanese trucks has been configured to provide additional information, including battery charge status and expected range.
The wand used to operate the engine exhaust brakes on diesel models activates the highly efficient electric retarder which also redirects energy to the batteries, recharging on the go and extending range before being connected to a charger .
A touchpad is located in the position of the gear lever to allow selection of forward and reverse gears.
Switching to using demountable chassis and cab kits from a recognized global manufacturer strengthens the case for SEA Electric vehicles and has allowed the company to focus on its patented software system which provides high torque with low stress in the same way as diesel engines in commercial vehicle applications. .
“SEA Electric is already working with our Tier 1 supply base to develop components better suited to our needs, from batteries to charging systems,” said Glen Walker, SEA Electric vice president, Asia- Peaceful.
“These co-developments will be increasingly proprietary.” Glen comes from an 18-year career with Kenworth Australia, which included roles as Chief Engineer of Kenworth Trucks, and Director of Group Operations and National Sales. He is also a board member of the Australian Electric Vehicle Council. Glen explains the total cost of ownership of an electric vehicle versus a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine.
“If you pay cash for an EV and cash for an ICE today, the premium for the EV is fully paid off in just under five years,” says Glen.
“From there, it’s deeply positive. Compared to using diesel, more or less, the distance traveled respectively shortens or lengthens that payback period. Alternatively, with the right financial package, the vehicle can have a positive cash flow from the first month.”
The SEA-Drive power system had already been offered on the market as a retrofit option for existing internal combustion engine vehicles. The new process of assembling trucks from new results results in less waste, faster build times and lower costs.
The current Melbourne factory building is doubling in size and while SEA Electric is set to become an Australian success story, the company is firmly aiming for global leadership, with a presence now on five continents.
It is already enjoying particular success in the United States, where its technologies have been adapted to both trucks and buses.
An order was placed in late 2021 for 1,150 electric trucks and SEA Electric partnered with Midwest Transit Equipment (MTE), one of the largest school bus dealerships in the United States, to upgrade 10,000 buses schools with battery-powered power systems, the biggest deal of its kind to date.
Ahead of the federal election in May, the Minister of Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction announced a program that will see up to $127.9 million in additional funding made available to support the integration of electric vehicle technologies in light and heavy vehicle fleets in Australia.