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Centurion prepares for off-grid electric truck fleet launch

Centurion Transport says its team is excited to collaborate with ARENA, Daimler, Geniux Cleantech and Switch Batteries to develop its electric trucks fleet

With the transport industry contributing 19 per cent of Australia’s total emissions in 2022, the sector has taken on a decarbonisation focus. 

While there is a myriad of options available for transport operators to turn to around Australia, whether it be battery electric, hydrogen fuel-cell or low-emissions variants, some operators have started by going down the electric path.   

With Team Global Express rolling out Australia’s largest logistics electric vehicle fleet this month, Centurion Transport is following suit after announcing that construction will commence shortly on its own electric truck depot.  

Centurion sustainability and corporate affairs group manager Hamish McHaffie says the operator is excited to learn what the technology could do to its Perth operations. 

“From our perspective, there was an opportunity to start the transition and adapt this technology into parts of our fleet,” McHaffie told ATN. 

“While it’s not necessarily a core part of the business, it still supports the wider transport offering that we provide in Perth’s metro areas.” 

McHaffie says Centurion’s new electric trucks are set to be the first in Australia to be powered by off grid solar generation and battery energy storage. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Future Fuels program has helped boost the infrastructure’s development after investing $15.8 million into the project. Through the funding, Centurion will install charging equipment, integrated energy generation and storage infrastructure. 

McHaffie says Centurion showed ARENA how the fleet could deliver outcomes for the Future Fuels program during the initial stages of the project design, with the process since seeing both organisations develop a close relationship. 

Image: Centurion

“Once you get your grant approved, you move from ARENA’s business development team to its project delivery team,” McHaffie says. 

“We’ll look to build a relationship with that team and utilise the support that they can provide to make sure that we’re getting the right outcomes for the project.” 

WA-based companies Geniux Cleantech Group and Switch Batteries are set to provide the solar and batteries required for the charging infrastructure. A total of 15 dual port slow and fast chargers will be built along with 10 megawatt hours of battery and four megawatts of rooftop solar. 

Centurion’s long-standing OEM partner Daimler Trucks will provide the operator 30 Mercedes-Benz eActros trucks. McHaffie says the truck model’s release in October 2023, alongside the announcement of ARENA’s Future Fuels program, saw an opportunity for Centurion to begin planning its fleet development. 

McHaffie says Centurion’s current objective is to prepare the charging infrastructure ahead of the truck’s arrival in Perth from Melbourne by the end of this year. On top of this, Centurion’s stakeholders and customers have also welcomed the goal of electrifying Centurion’s Hazelmere operations. 

“They see that we’re trying to get after some of this technology and use it where it makes sense and where it’s available,” McHaffie says. 

“If we can start learning about how this technology works and how we will operate it, we could potentially extend that offering into other parts of the business.” 

McHaffie says while the technology may not be ready for Centurion’s road trains that the operator currently operates, it’s something that is likely to come in the future, with the project helping Centurion to learn new ways of adopting technology for the energy transition

“It makes sense for us to do this project in Hazelmere given the size of the depot,” McHaffie says. 

“If we learn the right things and if it’s successful, we could start to see the introduction of smaller versions of this electric depot across our Australian operations.” 

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