Bus Industry News, Charging Infrastructure, Technology

JET Charge continues electric experience in Australia

In the past six months, JET Charge has taken its electric charging deployments to the next level with a range of new installations coming online around Australia

The past few months have been a blur for JET Charge. As the electric vehicle infrastructure company continues to scale up, it is learning more and more about the ways it can help a range of industries, including the Australian bus and coach sector.

Roughly six months ago ABC last sat down with JET Charge Bus and Heavy Vehicle Sector Lead Alex Bowler to discuss the company’s plans for the future of electrified bus depots in Australia. In the months since, JET Charge has been hard at work delivering domestic charging solutions, commercial public and larger scale industrial charging DC programs.

“We’re starting to see charging products we’ve invested in and brought to the market now being deployed and in customer hands,” Bowler told ABC.

“It’s really exciting. It represents a scale-up for JET Charge in our capability to procure, design and deliver charging systems. We would’ve installed more than 50 high powered DC charging systems to a large range of clients so far this year and have rolled out more than 5000 charging stations per year across our business.”

In the bus industry, JET Charge has previously focused on an end-to-end process that started with fleet assessment calculations and concept designs and ended with installation and maintenance. It’s now refined this scope to focus on its expertise in the supply, fit-off commissioning and maintenance of electric bus charging equipment.

“The maturation of the market means we don’t need to play as large a role in facilitating operators to take the first step in understanding the requirements for electrifying a depot,” Bowler says.

“Operators have been running trials, understanding what’s involved and working closely with partners on wholesale depot conversions, so we’re now focusing on rolling out the chargers for them as part of these projects.”

This slight shift centres on what JET Charge specialises in, with its experience and knowledge better suited to the chargers used in electrifying depots. As part of its value on offer, JET Charge can commission and fit the equipment before providing ongoing maintenance plans for bus and coach operators.

As an agnostic provider of charging hardware, JET Charge is securing its many relationships with charging system OEMs to give operators a range of options when it comes to electrifying depots. Bowler says many recent projects have included Kempower chargers, as JET Charge continues working closely with the brand by ordering and holding stock to fulfil requirements in Australia.

“Through a number of projects across the country, we’ve found Kempower’s DC chargers to be highly flexible and reliable in commercial operations,” Bowler says.

“This is a good fit for JET Charge as we’d rather do the hard yards and sell a good piece of equipment which continues to deliver throughout its operating life.”

The company is also investing back into the organisation through continual technical training for the JET Charge team, focusing on the complexity and challenges that can arise in the installation and management of electric vehicle chargers.

“Over the past six to 12 months we’ve stood up a technical training team internally as we look to upskill our staff throughout the company as well as the contractors we work with,” Bowler says.

“We’re doing it in conjunction with our suppliers and partners to make sure our teams are up to speed and ready to deliver projects.”

Bowler says the most effective training JET Charge can do is out at the depots, working on new projects to understand the many ways electrical charging can be embedded into depot redesigns. While JET Charge will always remain agnostic with charger brands, the many Kempower products it has installed in the past six months has allowed it to learn more about the Australian electric bus charging sector than ever before.

One of these recent projects included the installation of chargers for ComfortDelGro Corporation Australia (CDC) for its zero-emissions bus trial in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.

Working under ENGIE, JET Charge installed chargers at the depot as well as at the Monash University bus interchange in what is the first off-depot electric bus charger in the country. This approach avoided costly infrastructure upgrades at the depot by letting vehicles recharge during their layover at the interchange and will allow the project group to better understand operational requirements for future in-field charging applications.

JET Charge has also been involved in two other major projects in the wider transport industry, including a year-long charger installation for the Victorian government’s Zero Emission Vehicle Program. The project has installed more than 400 chargers at more than 25 sites around the state and has showcased JET Charge’s capabilities as an expert charging system provider.

“This project is testament to our growing ability to manage multiple concurrent program rollouts at the same time while delivering quality products and service to our clients,” Bowler says.

“This was particularly challenging as we worked across hospitals, libraries and large office buildings, all of which have their own stakeholder groups to deal with.”

JET Charge also sharpened its heavy vehicle charging knowledge through an ARENA-funded future fuels product with logistics company Team Global Express, providing a mix of AC and DC chargers for 60 Fuso and Volvo trucks.

It may not be a bus industry project, but Bowler says this example highlights JET Charge’s ability to work with large electrical contractors to install and maintain charging equipment for a range of medium-duty electric commercial fleets.

Throughout this whirlwind journey as a company, JET Charge has continued to expand its experience and capabilities in the bus sector. One learning that sticks out to Bowler to impart on bus and coach operators is the need to consider more than just the initial funding required to electrify depots.

“I want operators to know that the project is more than just the upfront design and capital costs,” Bowler says.

“Capital works are critical to get right, but as more projects go live we are beginning to see a gap in the maintenance products industry can offer and what’s needed by operators. We’re focusing on ongoing maintenance now for the transport sector, and in the next couple of months we’ll start testing products on live depots.”

All of these lessons enhance JET Charge’s focused approach to the bus and coach industry in Australia. While JET Charge has already proven itself as a complete electrification partner across the electric vehicle industry, it’s now refining its role in depot conversions as a specialist supplier and installer of EV charging equipment in the bus and coach industry.

“Our goal for the next year is to be known as a trusted advisor and solution supplier to the bus industry,” Bowler says.

“We don’t need to own every project, but if someone needs a job done with quality, on time and on budget, then JET Charge is the place to go.

“If the company keeps gaining
hands-on experience at its current rate, JET Charge can fast become a leading voice in the Australian bus electrification conversation.”

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