Revealed: Australian solar-powered electric vehicle with swappable bodies

The recent sightings of a strange, solar-panelled electric vehicle lurking in the grounds of the University of Melbourne herald an exciting development in the possible future of transport

: the Australian developed AEV from Applied Electric Vehicle Robotics has today been formally ‘soft-launched’ to the public.
Quietly developed for over three years now, the company is finally breaking cover today with the launch of its website.

The Driven was last week given an exclusive tour of the factory in Melbourne’s outer east where it is built and given interviews with builders and management to learn more about its features and development aims.

Management comes from several high-level auto manufacturing engineers – including their Chief Design Officer Luciano Nakamura (former Advanced Design Manager at General Motors) and CEO Julian Broadbent (former Director of Innovation at General Motors – who was part of Holden’s secret 2008 ‘EV super ute’ electric vehicle project which was later canned by GM Detroit during the GFC).

The Chief Financial Officer (Shane Ambry) is also a former Manager of Product Strategy at Telstra.

So what is it? Well another conventional vehicle for competition with the likes of VW, Tesla and Nissan it certainly is not! Instead, it is the result of reimagining the potential future of transport needs for an increasingly complex, connected and crowded urban environment.

Its developers specifically note in their interview for The Driven that the vehicle is not intended as a competitor to the ‘Swiss army knife’ that the modern vehicle has become: the AEV is a purpose-built vehicle, and system, designed to meet the needs of the ever increasingly complex and expanding inner urban transport and delivery environment.

As part of this, they are applying the concept of the Swedish ‘Vision Zero’ road safety campaign – where research there has shown that pedestrian survivability is dramatically enhanced by restricting impacts to 40km/hr or less.

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