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All change at EDay

Local electric: Robert Lane (left) and Laurie Sparke stand beside the EDay E15.

EDay Life to launch with petrol-powered SUV rather than electric hatchback

EDay logo8 Nov 2011

By IAN PORTER

PLANS by Melbourne company EDay Life to launch a small electric city car early next year have been turned upside-down by a change in strategy by the Chinese group that will make the cars.

The first EDay to arrive Down Under will no longer be the Corolla-sized E25 hatch displayed at the Melbourne motor show in July, but a petrol-powered SUV/crossover model based on the smaller E15 also seen at the show, according to founder and managing director Robert Lane.

But Mr Lane said the timing of EDay’s business plan remained unchanged, with the first right-hand drive vehicles set to arrive late in the first quarter of 2012 or early in the second quarter.

He said the sudden change of plan is part of the way the Chinese manufacturers are going to influence world car-making.

“That’s the joy of doing business in China,” he said with a chuckle. “We are not used to this sort of flexibility.”

The un-named Chinese group producing the various models simply changed the sequence in which they would become available.

The new plant that will build the crossover only started production on September 29.

 center imageLeft: EDay E15. Below: P25 (petrol-powered version of the E25.)

Other plants that will produce other models have not yet started production.

Mr Lane said the crossover would come with a petrol engine and in two-wheel drive, with a choice of automatic or manual transmission.

“I think the SUV probably does have a place in this market,” he said.

Mr Lane said he expected other drivetrains – including an LPG-powered engine and an electric drivetrain – would be developed.

EDay Life still expects to get its hands on an electric city runabout in the second half of 2012, although Mr Lane said it was not yet certain whether the car he has in mind would even be made in right-hand drive.

“It’s a different relationship to what we are used to,” he said referring to the fluidity of the Chinese manufacturer’s production plans. “Nobody’s done this before.”

Mr Lane said EDay was still set on using the Internet as its main source of distribution, perhaps supported by one dealership in each capital city.

“We are trying to disrupt the norm,” said Mr Lane, who has owned large dealerships in the past and knows how much capital they require.

He said EDay was still planning to rent the cars, the batteries and the home management systems, replacing the batteries after two years so customers would always have the latest battery technology.

The old batteries would then be recycled into the home energy management program, providing static electricity storage for houses with solar cells on the roof and further reducing carbon emissions by powering the EVs with renewable electricity.

He said EDay intended to exercise its rights to sell the cars altered to its specifications in RHD countries around the world, principally the UK, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

“Once we get Australia sorted out and running well, we will be quick to take the car to other countries. It just requires money, and we don’t want to raise more money from investors.”

EDay Life director Laurie Sparke told an electric vehicle seminar on Monday that there were still things to sort out at the Australian end of the deal.

Dr Sparke, formerly the director of innovation at GM-Holden before the division was shut down, said he was wrestling with a thorny issue regarding a radical approach to the dashboard.

He said the dashboard would use a portable tablet computer for all functions other than the speedo and odometer.

“The guys developing our software reckon we should use the Android platform because that offers more flexibility,” Dr Sparke told the second annual ‘Plug in 4 Power’ seminar.

“But the problem is the Apple iPad is the one that is popular with customers.”

EDay may write its software so the cars can accommodate both types of tablet.

Dr Sparke said there was also the issue of a pedestrian warning noise.

“The cars will be silent and pedestrian danger will be quite high,” he said.

“We have got to put a noise in, but it has to acceptable. We don’t want to use the same noise that commercial vehicles use when reversing – that would drive everyone crazy.

“There are lots of ways to get this wrong.”

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