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Redarc moves on remote EV travel solutions
Automotive manufacturing closure opens new doors for Aussie electronics firm Redarc
13 Sep 2021
By MATT BROGAN
AUSTRALIA is a country well known for the kinds of expansive distances that are currently difficult to be covered comfortably by electric vehicles, but South Australian company Redarc says the solution to remote EV travel may be closer than we think.
With close ties to four-wheel drive, camper trailer, and motorhome communities – as well as assistance from former automotive specialists hired in the aftermath of Australia’s car manufacturer exit – Redarc is working to extend the range of electric vehicles beyond what is currently accepted as the norm.
Speaking to GoAuto via video link from Adelaide, Redarc CEO Anthony Kittel, the European and United States motorhome markets in particular were already eyeing Redarc’s technology with interest.
“We see great opportunity in the kinds of products that will support the desire of consumers to travel further than is currently capable. These (off-road and camping related) products really are part of Redarc’s DNA, and we recognise that there is a need to help people with their intent to travel remotely in electric vehicles as part of our product roadmap,” said Mr Kittel.
“Every year that goes by the solution becomes a little bit clearer. Regional towns will soon have EV charging infrastructure – and it won’t be high-cost infrastructure – that with our assistance will allow customers to charge their vehicles at places like the local motel, service station, deli, or cafe. We need to have this kind of infrastructure in place if we’re to continue to entice people to come and stay in these remote places.
“The vehicle offerings coming show we’re already moving towards an electric future, and our in-the-wilderness experience is where our IP shines.”
Mr Kittel explained that through its existing product range, defence contracts and its recent partnership with Luminact on the Taipan Concept Demonstrator light military vehicle, Redarc had advanced technologies including those that convert and store energy more efficiently.
“AC to DC, DC to DC, and DC to AC conversion are core skill sets for Redarc and there are great opportunities in each of these three areas that will define where it is consumers with electric vehicles are able to go when travelling outside of the metropolitan area,” he said.
“We’ve really ramped up our engineering capabilities, particularly with regard to high-power applications. Five years ago, we might have had one engineer studying possibilities in this field, now we have a whole team.
“It’s a little bit like the charging infrastructure solutions you see popping up already – we want to have the product range to support the customer to go beyond these places and to have enough power, or the ability to make that power, to get them back to those charging points again.”
With COVID-19 travel restrictions seeing an increasing number of people choosing to explore their own backyards, Mr Kittel said that Redarc’s future was looking bright.
Interest in Australian-developed off-road and camping-related electronic products were favoured in Europe, the United States, and New Zealand to the point where production and R&D work is now operating around the clock.
“Our 2025 strategy is well ahead of our plans, and in some ways, we can thank COVID for that. More consumers are travelling within their own markets, particularly in Europe, Australia, the USA, and New Zealand with motorhomes, RVs, caravans, and four-wheel drive markets all seeing great growth this year,” said Mr Kittel.
“We have been able to employ 90 new staff members, many from the automotive manufacturing industry, and we now have annual revenue that exceeds $100 million. We reinvest 15 per cent of that directly back into our IP, and we’re now partnering with universities to further fast-track our development of remote area power solutions.
“Much of that investment couldn’t be better timed regarding COVID-19. We went from a two-shift operation to a three-shift operation, utilising much of the investment we made in 2018 around the clock. We’re now at capacity, and remarkably, we’re looking at further expansion – even through these challenging times.
“I think Redarc has done remarkably well to recover some of the staff from the key (automotive production) businesses as they were closing down, particularly with R&D and manufacturing jobs, and even logistics-based opportunities. It’s allowed us to go after numerous opportunities that we simply wouldn’t have had the capacity to attempt even five years ago,” Mr Kittel added.
Mr Kittel was quick to highlight the importance of local manufacturing and to point out how the skills adopted from automotive manufacturing could be adapted to this, and other, exciting new fields.
Redarc continues to develop and adapt not only its automotive product range locally but is also working with the defence department and even Australian space exploration concerns with the assistance of former Ford, Holden and Toyota automotive engineers.
“We’ve been privileged to ‘soak up’ many of these people with very advanced skills and training. It’s allowed us to take on various opportunities within space and defence which are growing nicely, said Mr Kittel.
“We have been awarded some key defence contracts and we’ve won some key contracts in the space sector now as well – I never thought Redarc would be making circuit boards that go into space!
“I don’t think we could have done this as quickly as we have without the numerous staff we’ve picked up from OEM car manufacturers and talented staff that have come to us from right throughout the automotive supply chain.
“We have outstanding managers, test and validation engineers, supply chain and logistics staff, and people whose backgrounds bring so much knowledge to our business.
“Consumer sentiment has been great over the past 12 to 18 months, and I think a degree of that is related to our sovereign manufacturing capabilities. It’s really important for Australia, and we’re really proud to be part of it.”
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