Starting late this year, Zein Motors is planning to mass-produce electric freight trucks in Daegu, opening a new chapter in Korea’s freight transport. The electric truck is expected to fully meet drivers' needs and can revolutionize traditional heavy duty transport.
Zein Motors hosted a ceremony for the completion of an electric freight truck plant at the National Industrial Complex in Daegu on July 17. The significant opening ceremony was attended by more than 400 people including Daegu-based lawmakers and officials from Daegu Municipal Government. Also on hand at the rite were those from overseas, like the Philippines and the United States.
|Calmato, an electric-drive vehicler of Zein Motors|
During the rite, Zein Motors presented a 1 ton electric vehicle named “Calmato,” which means "quiet and calm” in Italian." A company official said that the Calmato signifies an electric vehicle with less noise than an internal combustion engine. Using a 34 kW class battery, the Calmato can travel up to 120 km per charge. The maximum speed is 120 km, according to him.
Annually, Zein Motors plans to produce 3,000 electric trucks at its Daegu plant. The Calmato will be based on the 1 ton trucks originally manufactured by Hyundai Motors, with its internal combustion engine parts being replaced by those produced by Zein Motors. The plant sits on a large area of 17,889 square meters in preparation for the mass production of electric cargo vehicles.
|DIC Head Office in Daegu, Korea|
Full-scale production seems possible toward the end of the year. According to the current Freight Truck Transport Business Act, the supply of business lorries is under management of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. A radical revision to the legislation, which would allow transport of new eco-friendly vehicles such as electric and hydrogen vehicles, was approved by the National Assembly in March. It is set to go into effect on November 29 this year. Zein Motors is planning to launch the mass production of electric trucks by gaining approval from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport toward the end of the year.
|Products of DIC|
Foreign officials also flew to Daegu to attend the VE factory opening ceremony. The rite was attended by officials from the Philippine government and the economic development team of the U.S. state of Kentucky. A Philippine government official said, "Many people say the Philippines should be prepared for climate change, with rising interest expressed in electric cars. If the Republic of Korea makes progress with development of electric vehicles, I believe there will be some elements to be taken into account for developing countries."
Naturally, the guests paid much attention to the test drive of the electric freight vehicle. While Jane Motors prepared five electric trucks, they had to wait in line. “Our guests showed much interest in our vehicles, inquiring about the price and charging time,” said a Zein Motors spokesman.
|DIC factory facilities|
Reporters also wanted to board the Calmato. Calmato’s appearance was not different from the 1 ton truck being produced by Hyundai, but the inside was quite different. For instance, Zein Motors' proprietary digital instrument cluster has informed the remaining power and current speed. There was zero vibration or noise when the engine was on.
There are some challenges to be addressed, however. As the Calmato depends on large Korean companies for core components such as batteries, critics could argue that that its technology independence should be achieved at an earlier time through plenty of research and development.
A senior official of Zein Motors said: "The electric scooters and electric farm machines, which we also will produce together, have developed batteries and motors with their own technology, but the battery capacity of the electric freight trucks now relies on large companies. We are striving to develop batteries for VEs in partnership with DIC, our parent firm.”
|A Calmato electric cargo vehicle|
Established in 1976, DIC is a mid-sized firm that turns out a range of components and parts of automobiles and heavy-duty machines. It has eight affiliates. DIC’s sales revenues in 2017 totaled KRW633 billion. Jane Motors, set up in 2017 for electric vehicle manufacturing, took over two firms as affiliates. They are Zein Automotive which holds vehicle electrification technology, such as advanced driver-assistance systems, or ADAS, and Zein EPT which manufactures powertrains for EVs.
According to the senior official Zein Motors intends to raise the annual production target to 50,000. “We have countless tests in and out of our factory to enhance the quality and customer confidence.”
He said the company has invested KRW35 billion for the development of electric trucks. “With the air pollution becoming worse day and day, we have intensified our efforts to develop electric freight trucks,” he said. He remarked that the supply expansion of electric trucks could contribute to the improvement of air quality.
Meanwhile, Korea's electric vehicles sales surpassed the 10,000-mark for the first time ever in the January-June period this year. Data from local
carmakers and the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association said EV sales in the first half of 2018 stood at 11,866 units, roughly equal to the total sales tallied for the whole of 2017. Last year, EV sales reached 4,412 in the first six months and the annual figures hit 13,536 vehicles.
Kim Sua firstname.lastname@example.org
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