e-vehicle

Army Takes Us For a Ride With Its New E-Vehicle

9 September 2022

3.4 MINS

If we are to rely on e-vehicles to transport our soldiers through warzones, the Australian Defence Force is certainly doomed. Perhaps we should consider an even more environmentally-friendly, natural means of transport.

Last month, amid great fanfare, an electric version of the battle-tested Australian Bushmaster (a concept E-Protected Mobility Vehicle) was launched in Adelaide.

The original, diesel-powered Bushmasters built in Bendigo served in the Afghanistan theatre. So impressive were they that allied combatants including the Netherlands and Britain purchased 120-plus of them.

Currently, 20 Bushmasters are en route to active service with the Ukrainian Army. Other defence force customers of the Bushmasters include New Zealand, Fiji, Japan and Indonesia.

The diesel-powered vehicle has an operational range of 800 kilometres.

So, now, an all-singing all-dancing concept electric prototype is ready for Army trials. It is anticipated that these e-Bushmasters will be silent and not generate the heat signature of a diesel vehicle.

Limitations

According to your ABC News of August 11, it is anticipated that the e-vehicle will have an impressive operational range of 1,000 kilometres.

That is not yet the case, according to the Defence Department’s release of August 19, which says: “The first version has about a 100-kilometre range, but a planned larger battery should increase this to 350 kilometres. There’s also work to mount small external generators, increasing the range to about 1,000 kilometres.”

A small detail missed in the media hype was that the e-vehicle could not drive to the Adelaide launch. This was confirmed by the Minister’s office, which said the e-vehicle was transported from Newcastle (NSW) on the back of a motorised vehicle.

Lumbering Death Trap

The e-vehicle is a child sired by the Army’s “Power and Energy Paper” of March 2020.

The lithium battery utilised in the e-vehicle features high-speed recharging; about three hours at an EV station; or, if the crew pull up outside a farmhouse and use the household plug, about seven hours.

An inconvenient feature of the large lithium battery is that if a bullet or shrapnel pierces its casing, the crew will probably be roasted alive. If it should happen in dense scrub, there is the possibility of a bushfire.

A convoy of E-Bushmasters rolling at 100 kilometres per hour from Melbourne to Sydney (870 km) would, with nine stops at EV points, take 36 hours (1½ days) to arrive; while the same 870-km trek in outback South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia or the Northern Territory stopping at farms to recharge would take 72 hours (three days). Diesel-powered Bushmasters can cover the same distance – with driver breaks every two hours – in about 11 hours (half a day).

But do not despair; Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite said the electric Bushmaster is part of building a “future ready” Army.

Standard Operating Procedure for an army field-force convoy movement is to place the slowest vehicles in the lead. A worry for any convoy commander if he was moving a mixed convoy of motorised and e-vehicles would be the requirement to halt every 100 kilometres to recharge the electric units.

Moreover, not all e-vehicles would stop at the same location because some might “run out of puff” after 90 kms, others at 95 kms, or 98 kms, well short of the recharge point. A convoy with 20 e-vehicles would require a recharge point with 20 EV stations or 20 power points at a farm.

Missing in Action

A timely lesson for the Army comes from the Gloucestershire Constabulary, which boasts the largest full electric fleet in Britain, 91 vehicles. Its problem is simple: the force cannot respond to crime because the batteries “keep going flat”.

Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson said officers had experienced problems finding recharging facilities in the county as the e-vehicles “run out of puff”, and staff needed to change police cars.

Police Scotland invested £20 million ($A34 million) providing 23 stations with e-vehicles but no EV charging points. When their vehicles were plugged into the station’s regular power point, the latter blew up. Now the e-vehicles are left at council car parks overnight with officers reverting to combustion-powered vehicles.

The e-Bushmasters engaged in a limited conflict in the remote outback or even in rural areas and “running out of puff” would certainly meet the Army’s “silent” criterion.

Natural Alternative

While it is easy to criticise a work in progress, any correspondent worth his salt should provide an interim workable solution that will work until the Army’s R&D e-vehicles are perfected before we face an invasion or shortage of liquid fuels.

Luckily, there is a solution to this self-defeating “carbon-constrained economy” nonsense: the camel.

Australia has (perhaps) a million feral camels roaming the Outback. Australian soldiers rode camels into battle during World War I in the Mesopotamia campaigns. Camel trains were used in remote Australia as each animal could carry 100 kilograms of stores, or be harnessed in teams to haul wagons.

In a military emergency, camel teams could haul “out-of-puff” e-vehicles to the nearest power point. A good camel will travel at five km/h; so, she’ll be right, no urgency; the troops can wait.

The Army’s use of camels would be an innovative carbon-reduction “work in progress” of Labor’s Climate Change Bill, now before the Senate, and would easily impress the UN’s climate barons and other assorted global-warming alarmists.

___

By Tony O’Brien.
Originally published at News Weekly.
Photo: Assistant Defence Minister Matt Thistlethwaite inspects the electric-powered Bushmaster armoured vehicle.

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