An Australian company, with backing by Macquarie Group’s Corporate and Asset Finance has announced it will start importing and selling Chinese built BYD electric trucks later this year and that. it has signed the largest electric commercial vehicle (ECV) order in Australia to date.

Founder and former CEO of Carbridge, Luke Todd is the man behind the company Nexport, which is described as a ‘new energy truck and bus specialist’ and he says the agreement is a key step in the business and market development cooperation between BYD, Nexport and Macquarie’s CAF Division for the Australia and New Zealand markets.

The order signed by Nexport, Macquarie and BYD is for an initial run of 200 electric medium duty trucks, the first of which will arrive here later this year.

Todd says that  under the agreement, Nexport will be responsible for local sales and support of electric BYD trucks sold in Australia and New Zealand and the range will initially consist of BYD’s T5 and T6 models, designed to meet the needs of operators using 4.5-7 tonne logistics and general commercial trucks. The company says it intends to move into heavy medium duty trucks in 2020 particularly targeting the refuse market.

Todd says that typically the purchase price of the BYD electric models will be about $50,000 to $60,000 more than a current technology diesel equivalent but that the running and whole of life costing will make the electric trucks more cost effective.

“Nexport and BYD are working with Macquarie to develop rental and fleet managed service solutions for customers seeking alternatives to outright purchase,” said Todd.

The company will pursue a direct sales model with customers buying direct from Nexport with no distributors or dealers, while the company is saying service will be tailored to customers with a range of  options to suit the size and nature of the fleet.

“We will provide bespoke service options, for instance with larger fleets we  can install a self contained solar powered service pod which is based on a shipping container, which would be stocked with replacement parts, and diagnostic equipment etc  and we would provide training for their mechanics or technicians,” said Luke Todd. “For smaller fleets and single operators we can train their local or regular mechanic to handle the maintenance and service.”

“The reality is that there is an 80 per cent reduction in maintenance and repairs with electric trucks so there is no money to be made in service for us, so it is better to equip buyers to handle that,” Todd said.

Todd says pre-sales work on the BYD electric truck range begins here next month and  that he expects delivery and dispatch of trucks to fleets late this year or early in 2020.

The trading name for the Nexport operation is set to be known as Electric Trucks Australia and Todd told Truck and Bus News  that the company has already had discussions with major transport operations and fleets.

Asked about the poor quality image and patchy track record of Chinese built vehicles and in particular trucks in Australia and how Nexport  would counter those perceptions Todd said that BYD was different to other truck makers from China.

‘We have had a lot of experience with BYD through our involvement with their buses at Carbridge so we know the company and also BYD has pursued a very European design strategy with its products including trucks, cars and buses,” he said.

“Several years ago BYD hired German Wolfgang Eggar from Audi to head up its design and engineering operations and so it has a Euro feel embedded in its design and quality,” he added.

Todd also said the BYD’s home city of Shenzen has driven much of its electric truck technology because diesel trucks are set to be banned in the city within the next three years.

“We have the opportunity to take the technology that has been developed there and  also because BYD committed to right hand drive production, I can assure you it is very focussed on export and this is a serious move into the Australian and NZ markets,” said Todd.

After starting and growing  the Carbridge bus operation here, Todd sold the company to private equity operations and says he is now totally focussed on bringing Electric Trucks Australia to the market.

“The fact that Macquarie is involved should underline the bona fides of this project, it is a company that is very protective of its brand and would not be involved if this project didn’t have a future and longevity, it is right behind this,” he added.

Scott Simpson, associate  director of  Macquarie  Corporate  and Asset Finance said the organisation sees increasing interest in fleet and rental solutions in a range of industries and markets where demand for LEV’s is growing.

“We look forward to working with BYD to explore this, not only in  electric trucks, but also other significant  EV markets,  such as airports and logistics,”  said Simpson.

Luke Todd told Truck and Bus News that operators could expect a reduction in running cost of around 40 per cent for normal  driving  conditions using an equivalent electric truck compared with a typical  7-tonne  diesel  truck currently returning around 4-5 km per litre of diesel fuel.

“Our BYD ECV would be expected  to consume  around  2-3kWh of energy  for the same  mileage and at current diesel prices of around $1.50 per litre compared  to around $0.30 per kWh equates to “like for like” savings of 40 per cent  in fuel costs  which potentially will save between $6,000 and $10,000 in fuel costs annually for a typical small truck travelling 50,000 km a year,: he said.

Todd told Truck and Bus that the 2019 BYD  models  will have an operating range of around being  300km on a single charge for its T5X model .

BYD first entered the Australian market seven years ago with its K9 bus electric bus and in May 2016 was awarded its first contract for the supply of buses to operate at Sydney Airport. This is now the biggest  

BYD’ K9 electric buses commenced operations at Sydney Airport in August of  the  same  year,  since then an additional 40 K9 buses for the same operator while it won trial bus orders from the ACT government’s Canberra public transport operator, ACTION Bus, and has delivered 11 new electric buses for operation at the international terminal at Brisbane Airport Corporation.