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ACE picks SA partner for EV assembly

Delivered: ACE EV’s cargo urban delivery van has a carbon-fibre and plastic body that is glued together from a kit shipped in flatpacks from China.

Australian EV era dawns with truck body-maker Aldom to build ACE vehicles

15 May 2019

FLEDGLING electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Australian Clean Energy Electric Vehicle Group (ACE EV) has signed a deal with South Australian truck body manufacturer Aldom Motor Body Builders to assemble a range of urban EVs in the Adelaide suburb of Wingfield from 2020.


The announcement came just a day after the Labor Party announced a $57 million EV development and manufacturing strategy fund policy ahead of the May 18 federal election.  


ACE EV managing director Greg McGarvie has been highly critical of the Coalition government’s lack of support for Australian companies wanting to invest in the EV industry, saying federal inaction had set the Australian industry back decades.


An offshoot of energy management company GetGreen based in Maryborough, Queensland, ACE EV assembled its first prototype at its Queensland premises in March.


It hopes to build the first 100 vehicles this year before Aldom’s new production line takes over next year with a production target of 600 units in 2020 and 3000 units in 2021.


The company is said to be in the process of securing Australian Design Rule (ADR) approval, which is mandatory before sales can begin.


Aldom, which is best known for specialist truck bodies such as refrigerated vehicles and motor racing transporters over the past four decades, plans to hire between 15 and 20 staff for the new venture.


Ultimately, ACE EV hopes to assemble 10,000 vehicles a year in Australia, with a proportion of those exported to other right-hand-drive markets.


The vehicles are glued together from just 72 parts, all arriving flat-packed in cartons from a partner in China. These include the moulded carbon-reinforced plastic monocoque that is common to all models, as well as ABS plastic outer panels.


ACE plans to source some parts from manufacturers that once supplied the Australian car industry, many of them in South Australia. Ultimately, it hopes to make the carbon-fibre core of the vehicles in Australia too.


The vehicles have been designed by German and Taiwanese partners, with ACE securing the global right-hand-drive sales rights. One of the brains behind the vehicles range is Taiwanese engineer Dr Charles Kung who was chief engineer for the Taiwanese high-speed rail project.


Australian production will start with a light delivery van, the ACE Cargo, before being enlarged with a pick-up version, the Yewt, and passenger car, the Urban.


The only real competition for the ACE Cargo in Australia is Renault’s electric Kangoo ZE that retails for $52,527 driveaway.


At 3900mm long and 1900mm wide, the Cargo is aimed at city businesses that make deliveries within urban areas.


Available only online and priced at $39,995 plus on-road costs, the Urban is powered by a 33kWh lithium-ion battery hooked up to a 45kW electric motor.


It has a claimed range of between 150 and 200km “at partial load”. Acceleration from zero to 50km/h is completed in seven seconds, while the top speed is 100km/h.


Maximum load capacity is 500kg, and charging is claimed to take eight hours on a standard home socket. Fast charging will not be available on initial models.


A bigger 40kWh battery is planned, taking the driving range to between 260 and 330km. Ultimately, a passenger vehicle called Sportz will have a target range of 600km.


The ACE vehicle assembly operation at Wingfield – near Port Adelaide – is not far from another SA would-be electric vehicle manufacturer, Precision Buses, which has built two full-electric test buses for the SA government.

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