54,000km on the road: Australia's first electric log truck

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Australia's first electric log truck is winning hearts and minds within the nation's forestry capital, one carbon-neutral load at a time.

The truck was commissioned by Mount Gambier-based harvest and haulage company, Fennell Forestry, as an important first step towards a decarbonised heavy transport industry. 

Nine months and 54,000km worth of on-road testing later, early signs are promising.

The transport industry is Australia's second highest contributor to carbon emissions, with a single diesel-powered log truck producing in excess of 500 tonnes of carbon every year. 

Australian company Janus Electric is helping slash this number to zero, by converting a once diesel-powered Kenworth prime mover to a fully-electric and rechargeable operating system, using entirely home-grown technology, innovation and workmanship.

And so far, this new electric-powered test model has saved 100 tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere during its brief, but productive, time on the road in the Green Triangle.

Perhaps more importantly though, it is providing real-world backing to the idea that electric energy is a reliable match for the rigors of commercial log haulage and a practical way forward for the sector.

Fennell Forestry Managing Director Wendy Fennell revealed that so far, the truck's performance was on par with its diesel-powered counterparts.

She said this had led to a positive shift in local perception and industry acceptance of electric-powered log transport, a sentiment reinforced by her "environment and sustainability" award win at the recent Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards.

"We have long believed the future of the heavy transport industry is with electric power, but with the government's 2030 emissions reduction targets looming, nothing had been done to test the theory," she said.

"We need a solution that is workable and tailored to the demands of our industry, so we decided we had to be the ones to take the leap and invest in our own future."

Ms Fennell thanked her highly-skilled team of drivers and managers for their forward thinking and commitment to ensuring the trial had the best possible chance of success.

“The truck has proven its operational capability by consistently hauling 68.5 tonne loads and driver feedback has been positive, thanks to its ease of driving and on-road performance,” she said.

“The real challenge now is now is to crunch the numbers and ensure everything stacks up from an economic perspective.

“We also need to determine what type of policy and framework will be established to support electric heavy vehicles and ensure adequate incentive is provided to encourage their rollout across the industry.

“Decarbonisation of the heavy vehicle industry will be a long, slow road, so it’s imperative we start now.”

Ms Fennell said the truck's extended testing phase was also allowing for progressive improvements to be made along the way, outside the project’s initial scope.

“Gear shifting has been optimised to improve energy efficiency and driving performance, while the truck’s regenerative braking system has also been customised to increase driving range and reduce maintenance costs,” she said.

“Janus Ecosystem software has also given us the tools to help improve driver training and better understand the truck’s performance, allowing us to double our energy recovery through regenerative braking.”

Janus Electric Chief Executive Officer Lex Forsyth said he was proud to be working alongside businesses like Fennell Forestry, to position Australia as a leader in zero emission trucking.

“Fennel Forestry completed the first interstate load in Australia from SA to VIC earlier this year at 68.5 Tonnes GCM, showing that zero emission trucking is not in the future it is here now,” he said.

We’re proud to be an Australian-owned and operated business, converting diesel prime movers to electric with exchangeable battery technology and building the charging infrastructure.

"Thanks to operators like Wendy and her team, we're showing that Australia can lead the way."

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