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SEA Electric wins 100-truck order in US

Cal tech: Melbourne-based SEA Electric has received an order for 100 electric-powered Hino 195s, similar to this SEA-powered Hino 917 EV destined for Ikea in Australia.

Californian company provides boost for Australian EV start-up SEA Electric

20 Nov 2019

AUSTRALIAN electric vehicle start-up SEA Electric has scored its biggest order yet – 100 electrified Hino trucks for Californian electric vehicle service provider Zeem Solutions.


And the Melbourne-based company expects more such orders from California where government rebate vouchers can cut up to 80 per cent from the price of all-electric vehicles.


The single order from Zeem will almost double the production volume achieved to date by SEA Electric which has been operating for about three years, concentrating on electric vans and trucks.


Based on an American-spec Hino 195 medium truck – nearly identical to the Hino 917 sold in Australia and elsewhere – the vehicles for Zeem will be fitted with the Australian-engineered powertrains in the US by a contractor, Fontaine Modifications, which has already started on the first vehicle.


Deliveries are scheduled to start in the first quarter of next year, with the remainder to be rolled out through 2020.


Australian engineers from SEA Electric have flown to California to oversee production of the initial vehicles which will be deployed by Zeem in Los Angeles and Sacramento where the company has service facilities.


Zeem will keep some of the trucks for itself, but most will go to lease customers for whom Zeem provides an EV consultancy service.


Zeem Solutions CEO Paul Gioupis said Zeem would keep spare vehicles to lessen downtime for customers during service.


“Once we have successfully deployed in Los Angeles and Sacramento, we will be rolling additional units out in San Francisco and San Diego,” he said.


The project has the blessing of Hino – Toyota’s commercial vehicle arm – which is supplying the base trucks for conversion.


In Australia, SEA Electric builds electrified Hino 917 trucks at its Dandenong South factory. So far, orders have included a delivery version for furniture giant Ikea and another truck set up as an elevated work platform for another customer.


SEA Electric also has a collaborations with Ford and with Isuzu in various markets.


The Ford project in Detroit centres on the F-59 workhorse that does a multitude of duties in the US, including postal delivery and school buses.


The Isuzu collaboration extends to South Africa where a SEA Electric-powered prototype is currently being developed.


SEA Electric also has projects in New Zealand and Thailand.


SEA Electric founder and president Tony Fairweather said his company was honoured to receive its first three-digit order from Zeem Solutions.


“Zeem Solutions are visionary in their approach to providing electric commercial vehicle offerings to their customers,” he said.


“The Hino 195 EVs will be deployed in California, a reflection on the excellent incentive program facilitated by CARB (California Air Resources Board) and Calstart (a national non-profit organisation promoting the eco-friendly vehicle industry).”


In Australia, no such incentives are on offer, making EV sales growth tougher.


The Hino 195 EVs for California get SEA Electric’s 128kW/1500Nm SEA-Drive 120a powertrain that, in this vehicle with a gross vehicle mass of more than 8.0 tonnes, should provide a driving range of about 320km.


The 120a powertrain is the third most powerful of the four SEA-Drive systems commercially available. The top-most 180a can deliver maximum power of 372kW and 3500Nm of torque – good for trucks of 18 tonnes and up.


Although SEA Electric has been operating from Dandenong South, it is planning to open a factory at Morwell in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley coal belt, with Victorian government support.

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