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Aussie company offers truckers a battery swapping solution

There’s little doubt that the electrification of road transport is well underway with an increasing number of Australians turning towards electric cars which are becoming more readily available at more affordable prices. EV motorists are saving money on their running costs, that’s especially the case for those who’ve obtained their vehicles through a novated lease.

The transition to electric trucks and delivery vehicles has been slower, however, especially when it comes to large semitrailers doing long haul deliveries, with range and recharging times an obvious challenge even if more electric semis were available. Hydrogen-powered prime movers could potentially overcome both these barriers, but hydrogen vehicles are even further from the starting blocks in Australia.

One innovative Australian business, however, holds the promise of smashing the barriers to electrification in the heavy vehicle industry. Its technology overcomes the problem of range and recharging times with an idea that could almost have been borrowed from battery power tools.

Faster recharging

Janus Electric takes existing diesel-powered prime movers - Kenworth's, Freightliners, Macks and Western Stars - and converts them to electric power. But in a radical shift of thinking, rather than recharging the truck’s batteries in the conventional manner, by plugging it in and waiting, Janus’s system simply removes the discharged battery and replaces it with a charged one in a process that takes as little as four minutes. That’s much faster than charging Tesla’s much-vaunted semi, which takes 30 minutes to gain 70 per cent of its range or the 20-odd minutes it takes to refuel a similar diesel vehicle. That charged battery will then take you 400-600 kilometres before the next battery swap.

So, it’s an electric semitrailer that’s much faster to “refuel” than a conventional truck, but the advantages don’t end there, because the running costs are almost a third the cost of a comparable diesel truck. Janus estimates the cost per kilometre at 33 cents, compared to diesel at 96 cents. And it’s not just the cost of the fuel, because those electric trucks are cheaper to maintain as well, with fewer moving parts and less need for lubricants.

While converting a truck from diesel to electric can cost Janus’s customers approximately $150,000, the business claims the payback time on the conversion can be less than 12 months.

Battery swap terminals

The business is establishing battery swap terminals along the length of major truck routes up and down the East Coast, with operators paying for the energy they use. Those charging stations use renewable energy in a three-way charging system that can go from the grid to the batteries, batteries to the batteries, or even batteries to the grid.

Janus may be an Australian business, but it has its eyes on the much bigger American market, with its thousands of kilometres of roads and its huge trucking industry. Its system, or similar battery swapping technology, has huge potential not only for reducing the costs of heavy vehicle transport, but for decarbonising a huge source of climate-changing emissions.


But Janus is not the only business with skin in the game because battery-swapping systems for trucks are also gaining ground in China, where the government is promoting the idea of reducing the CO2 and other emissions from trucks. China has the largest truck market in the world.

China’s roll-out of the technology has highlighted the problem of competing battery swapping systems, rather than a “one size fits all” battery solution. There’s a danger that without common engineering standards, competing battery-swapping technology, and systems could limit its potential uptake and stymie its environmental and economic benefits. Clearly, some work needs to be done to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Written by
Mark Schneider

Mark is a successful copywriter with over 20 years of professional writing experience.

We welcome him as a guest blogger to Fleettorque.

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