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Company produces first local EV truck

SIMILARITIES Commercial EVs share a similar structure and components to those of traditional diesel vehicles, such as the chassis and the cab

LOW DEMAND Despite the increase in global demand for renewable energy, the demand for electric trucks in South Africa remains low

25th November 2022

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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Electric vehicle (EV) solutions provider Applied Electric Vehicle Energy Reticulation Systems Africa (Aeversa) subsidiary Iron Energy is nearing the completion of the first locally assembled 8 t electric commercial truck.

The truck is a multiplatform EV drive train that is chassis agnostic – the drive train can be used in various ladder frame and chassis vehicles.

It can operate at a range of between 200 km and 300 km, depending on battery size and application, with a maximum power rating of 200 kW.

Completion of the truck is expected by the end of the year as an experimental prototype, with the company yet to complete the homologation process.

This is a process required by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications to ensure that the truck complies with all the necessary safety standards.

Thereafter, the company will receive the necessary documentation from the national administration traffic information system, or NaTIS, to enable drivers to obtain the necessary licence to drive it.

Upon completion of this project, Iron Energy aims to act as a catalyst to drive demand for the local assembly of drive trains for EV trucks.

“We hope that the spinoff of this will be that other industries will follow suit and add component manufacturing to their service offering,” says Aeversa CEO Rick Franz.

Local manufcturing

Local original-equipment manufacturers should pivot in their manufacturing capacity to produce EVs and the associated components – primarily lithium-ion battery cells and electric motors – to ensure the South African automotive sector remains relevant as the global energy transition advances.

Franz adds that the local manufacturing of battery cells requires the establishment of, for example, relevant mining activities, refining facilities and a specialised workforce.

Similarly, electric motor manufacturing, specifically in the axial configuration as opposed to radial, requires a new value chain built around the assembly factory.

Hence, Franz proposes slowing the rate of imports by improving production capacity and local manufacture of products which can, consequently, create more job opportunities and reinvigorate the manufacturing sector.

“South Africa has been, and can again be, a manufacturing juggernaut. “We have the skills and the necessary materials. “We have a unique opportunity to join the global ranks as a powerhouse of EV manufacture and renewable-energy storage capacity.”

He says commercial EVs share a similar structure and components to those of traditional diesel vehicles, such as the chassis and the cab, which, in turn, make the transition from diesel to electric easier and more comfortable for fleet owners.

However, despite the increase in global demand for renewable energy, the demand for electric trucks in South Africa remains low, owing to fleet owners prioritising gas as a cheaper alternative fuel, the unfamiliarity with commercial EVs and loadshedding that nullifies the adequate charging of fleets.

To address these challenges, Aeversa provides complete power solutions and charging as a service for fleet owners to ensure that EV trucks can be charged at any time.

“We have partnered with engineering firms that offer energy storage solutions to build the drive trains, followed by large-scale batteries or on-site battery storage. “This enables companies to store excess solar power accumulated during the day to be used when sunshine is unavailable. ‘That is our long-term strategy – to install the charging infrastructure along with energy storage infrastructure,” explains Franz.

Aeversa provides proof of concept to educate risk-averse companies on the benefits and relevance of EVs.

This enables companies to rent one of Aeversa’s trucks, whereby Aeversa then collects data and compiles a report to compare the EV with its diesel counterpart in terms of costs savings.

This, in turn, helps executive teams plan their future EV roll-out.

Aeversa also works with finance houses to calculate the future value of electric trucks based on research that the company is conducting, which involves drafting the full maintenance lease layouts for the South African industry.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

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