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Isuzu to test electric vehicles pair developed locally

NQR and FSR models with 200-250km range produced in with SEA Electric


Isuzu Australia Ltd (IAL) will test two battery electric vehicles (EVs) it has developed in partnership with Melbourne-based EV developer SEA Electric.

A purely Australian effort, it is independent of Isuzu’s Japan-focused Elf EV light commercial project EV previewed at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show but comes with the blessing of headquarters in Tokyo.

The EV program is focused on proving the 8-9 tonne gross vehicle mass (GMV) NQR and the 12-14 tonne GMV FSR for urban return-to-base applications.

The NQR will have maximum and continuous power of 130kW and 100kW respectively, while those for the FSR are 250kW and 150kW.

Maximum and continuous torque are 1,500Nm and 800Nm for the NQR and 2,500Nm and 1,230Nm for the FSR

Both models will carry 132 KWh nickel, manganese, cobalt oxide (NMC) lithium-ion battery packs powering direct drive permanent magnet motors, rated to 98 per cent efficiency.

The battery type used, sourced from Canada and China, was chosen for its energy density and ability to stay cool enough to avoid flaming. It is expected to have a battery life of 8-10 years.

The battery packs are stowed between the chassis rails, in a similar manner as SEA test vehicles transport and logistics firm Kings Transport took up in Melbourne a year ago, though the Isuzus are different beasts from those EVs.

The operating range sought is 200-250km.

“Our research and our experience with CNG trucks over the past 10 or 15 years has shown that the absolute minimum for just about any application, whether it be return to base or any of that urban-type arrangement, is that Australian operators won’t be comfortable unless they can get at least 200km out of their truck,” chief engineer and product strategist Simon Humphries explains.

Though large-company drivers may believe they drive more than that in cities, Humphries that “the telematics data suggests that actually 140 to 160km a day is all they do”.

On the advances in battery technology, he has found that roughly every six months, you get 10 to 15 per cent increase in range for the same weight and cost.

“Or, alternatively, once you reach the range you’re after, you then reduce the weight and cost.”

The tare mass is 5 per cent above the equivalent diesel truck, at present.

Cost parity with light to medium-duty diesel vehicles is expected in 2021-22.

“Our target was performance that matches or exceeds the equivalent diesel, so we specified the electric motor, the battery pack, everything to provide performance that the driver will not suffer by and that will want to drive this truck,” Humphries says.

Marking the local effort out from certain North American recharging strategies, such as Tesla’s, the IAL EV eschews battery charging stations.

It features a 22kW on-board charging system and cables, which plugs into a standard industrial 400-415 Volt, 32 amp, 3-phase, 5-pin socket — a solution that is, however, compatible with the Tesla’s growing local Supercharger network.

This aims to allow for a six-hour recharge from a near-totally drained pack.

Vehicle production numbers expected to be in the 100s.

“Some of the logistics about the base cab-chassis are still to be determined,” IAL sales and marketing director Andrew Harbison says.

“Once volumes dictate, we will determine where the production is.”

Talks with SEA Electric began “quite some time ago” and development was a separate project, though Harbison notes “SEA has certainly taken learning from that and incorporated them”.

That said, the IAL project was more heavily focused on integrating Isuzu technology into the new EVs.

“We believe we have the technology and the know-how to produce the best electric truck,” IAL director and chief operating officer Phil Taylor tells a media event before the vehicles are unveiled at Melbourne’s MegaTrans event today.

“It’s now our challenge to ensure the concept becomes a reality.”


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