The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)  has announced that Australia’s first 112 battery-electric vehicle (BEV) trucks, targeted to make last-mile deliveries will soon  be hit roads in metro areas thanks to $12.8 million in funding, from the Agency’s Driving the Nation Fund. 

ARENA claims that freight and logistics provider ANC will use the funding to unlock the $45.5 million Project Spark, which it says will address barriers in electrifying the truck owner-driver segment to further drive fleet decarbonisation. 

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said Project Spark marks ARENA’s first foray into last mile delivery  and builds on the agency’s investments in the electrification of buses, as well as road freight and logistics. 

Darren Miller said that the breadth of innovation in Project Spark, across both supply and demand-side measures, is commercially astute, practically workable, and very exciting.  

“It promises to kick-start a step change in electrifying last mile delivery in Australia by lowering the total costs to own and run electric trucks

,” Miller said.

“The project demonstrates use cases for battery electric trucks in last mile operations, tackling constraints that have so far made it hard for the industry to transition away from internal combustion engine vehicles,” he said. 

According to ARENA, ANC manages a network of contracted owner-drivers to provide LMD services to some of Australia’s most iconic retail brands, including IKEA, JB HI-FI, The Good Guys, Bunnings, Who Gives A Crap, Temple and Webster, and William Sonoma.  

Currently, owner-drivers considering BEV trucks face higher capital costs, limited access to charging infrastructure, costly and complex private charging options, and constrained revenue potential. 

The Agency says that ANC designed Project Spark to leverage commercial and technological levers to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) of BEV trucks for owner-drivers, supported by a range of partners including CarBon, Origin Energy, SpotLumos and others. 

It said that ANC’s proposal to offer discounted trucks with leasing options, improve battery-charging and vehicle-utilisation models, and unlock new revenue streams aims to resolve these challenges. 

Project Spark’s charging model couples Origin Energy’s overnight charging-as-a-service (CaaS) from home with fast-charging services at depots and in the public to enable owner-drivers to meet last mile delivery requirements. 

ANC CEO, Joe Sofra said the grant from ARENA is a vote of confidence in ANC’s vision for a cleaner, greener future.

“With this support, we will expedite the deployment of battery electric vehicles, reducing emissions and leading the charge towards a net zero emissions delivery ecosystem. We are poised to make a substantial impact on the market, and more importantly, on the environment,” Sofia said.

“We thank ARENA for its support in helping ANC drive this pivotal shift in the industry,” he added.

ANC chief growth and sustainability officer, Mo Abbas said its commitment to lead the energy transition transcends fleet conversion and includes a pursuit to find innovative ways to solve urban gentrification challenges, overcoming resistance to change and routing for the shortest possible route to customer to reduce carbon emissions. 

The Australian Government’s Driving the Nation Fund has $500 million to invest in cheaper and cleaner transport, including in charging innovation and fleet decarbonisation.