Jenny Wiggins: AFR Infrastructure reporter
Nexport Mobility is planning to team up with charging group Tritium to make electric vehicles in Brisbane, executive director Luke Todd said as he confirmed a $110 million funding injection from Hong Kong’s Tor Investment Management.
“We’re very excited about the recent Olympics news because we believe a key part of Brisbane and the Olympics is hopefully going to be the first zero emission Olympics,” Mr Todd told The Australian Financial Review.
“We’re in detailed discussions with Tritium about having a joint facility where we’ll be manufacturing EV products in Brisbane.”
Nexport Mobility will use a $110 million funding injection to speed up the delivery of electric buses to the NSW government.
Mr Todd describes Brisbane-headquartered Tritium as a “business cousin” because both Tritium, which makes fast-chargers for electric vehicles, and Nexport Mobility are backed by Trevor St Baker’s St Baker Energy Innovation Fund.
Nexport wants to build a battery testing facility in Brisbane in partnership with Tritium, so it can demonstrate the safety of electric batteries.
“Hopefully one day if we’re making batteries in Australia, whether it’s us or or some other entities, this will be a facility that would be an open platform type facility where anyone could come along and our team of technicians would work with them to test the batteries,” Mr Todd said.
It also hopes to build electric buses and logistics trucks in Brisbane alongside Tritium’s manufacturing plant for charging stations.
“That then starts to create this whole ecosystem of clean tech industry that hopefully puts Brisbane, and other parts of Australia, on the map globally as a renowned trusted quality manufacturer of products and chargers.”
As reported by StreetTalk, Nexport – which is owned by TrueGreen Impact Group – will use debt funding from Tor to expand its transport business ahead of a possible initial public offering in 2022.
The funding from Tor allows Nexport to speed up its EV projects, including making electric buses. Tor has the option to take a small equity stake in Nexport if it floats, Mr Todd said.
Nexport, which may consider raising more funding in the future from Tor or other groups, signed more than 40 non-disclosure agreements with people interested in providing financing, Mr Todd said. “We had a whole handful of offers on the table.”
Nexport has delivered almost 45 electric buses to the NSW government and expects to manufacture up to 300 electric buses over the next few years. It makes the bodies of the electric buses in NSW and Victoria.
It also holds the rights to exclusively distribute electric cars and small vans made by Chinese manufacturing group BYD, which is backed by US billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
A “customer experience” centre that was scheduled to open in late June in Sydney has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak in NSW but Nexport is planning to put a BYD electric car on display in the Canberra Centre, a shopping mall.
Instead of selling BYD cars and vans through dealers, Nexport wants to interact with potential customers directly. It is in talks with Brisbane Airport about putting its electric vehicles at the airport’s planned Auto Mall, which would have a 2.3-kilometre track for testing out cars.
The incentives provided to consumers by the NSW government in its new electric vehicle strategy were fantastic, but Mr Todd said Nexport’s business model was not orientated around incentives.
“For EVs to really become mainstream in Australia, the product has to really stand up for itself and be at price parity with internal combustion engines,” he said.
“We need to deliver products that customers want to buy, that are desirable to buy and that are affordable to buy.”