Electric truck and bus propulsion for Commodore


Passenger car to gain from technology transfer as electric motor initiatives gather pace

Gary Worrall| March 7, 2012

US electric engines
used in commercial transport will arrive in Australia to power private cars, the manufacturer says.

The electric motors are from US company UQM Technologies and are also used to power a fleet of UPS parcel delivery trucks in North America, as well as bus manufacturer Proterra’s electric composite transit buses, also in the US market.

The Australian designed and built Holden Commodore will become the first locally assembled car to go fully electric, UQM says.

The project to develop a ‘proof of concept’ fleet of 15 cars is co-ordinated by Melbourne company EV Engineering, working with Air International, Bosch, Continental, Futuris, along with leading industrial company GE, and electric car infrastructure provider, Better Place.

Eric Ridenour, CEO of UQM Technologies, says his company’s Powerphase 145 electric motor, used in the EV Engineering project, is a ‘turn-key’ propulsion system that can be mass produced, with the factory in Colorado capable of building 40,000 units annually.

With Mercedes-Benz keen to introduce its E-CELL Vito medium duty van to Australia, along with other manufacturers of ‘plug-in’ electric vehicles including Fuso’s Canter E-CELL that debuted at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, the EV Engineering project will help to introduce the concept of public recharging infrastructure to Australia.

Already two full electric drive cars are on sale in Australia, the Mitsubishi iMIEV and Nissan Leaf, and although they have limited range and must return to a base for recharging they demonstrate the ability for transport operators to run ‘emission free’ in CBD operations.

While critics of electric cars point out Australia’s dependence on coal-fired power stations, companies like Victoria’s Crown Coaches are installing on-site power generation using solar or wind sources to run the recharge stations.

The other counter-argument remains that it is almost impossible to capture carbon emissions in CBD and urban areas, while remote power stations can be surrounded by tree plantations to reduce their overall carbon footprint.

It is also worth remembering the Federal Government has publicly committed to funding renewable energy development as part of the carbon tax package, potentially opening the door for operators to seek financial assistance to build ‘eco-friendly’ charging stations.

 

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