ON its 125th anniversary, Hunter engineering firm G.H. Varley has unveiled a revolutionary electric motor it says could spell the end of the petrol engine in transport.
Varley managing director Jeff Phillips says he knows that’s an extraordinary claim, but he is convinced the technology developed by the company, with researchers from the University of Queensland, has extraordinary potential.
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So far, just a handful of the ‘‘ironless electric motors’’ have been built, with a pair installed in a bright yellow gull-wing sports car unveiled yesterday at Honeysuckle.
For anyone interested, Mr Phillips says Varley could sell the car for about $200,000.
‘‘The main thing we are looking for at the moment is its application in things like buses and trucks but having it in the sports car gives it a visibility,’’ Mr Phillips said as a crowd gathered around the vehicle, known for the time being as the EVR 450.
Mr Phillips says Varley has been working on the project for about 18months, making steady if secret progress at the company’s Brisbane workshops.
‘‘Most of our staff don’t even know about it yet,’’ Mr Phillips said.
With 125 years of trading under its belt, Varley is one of the Hunter’s most venerable companies.
Its past was recognised at a function last night at the Newcastle Maritime Museum, where a hard-cover 114-page history of the company – Varley, by George We’ve Done It – was unveiled.
The title honours George Henry Varley, who opened his doors as a coppersmith, brass finisher, plumber and gas-fitter at 93 King Street, Newcastle, in August 1886.
Mr Phillips said the company remained in the Varley family’s hands all these years later, although the business had expanded dramatically, employing about 650 people in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
Varley is still involved in the waterfront industries that made its name but much of the company’s work in recent years has been in defence and rescue service vehicle building.
Mr Phillips says the electric vehicles he wants Varley to develop and build are ‘‘game changers’’, and not just for the company.
‘‘There are still problems to be solved with the time taken to recharge batteries and with the distance the vehicles can travel between charges,’’ Mr Phillips said.
‘‘But it’s zero-emission technology. And with more renewable forms of electricity generation to charge the batteries, you have a truly green vehicle.’’