BUYERS GUIDE - UTES & CAB CHASSIS LARGE
Many industries are interested in zero-pollution electric vehicles – particularly underground mining – and the ubiquitous LandCruiser ute is an obvious candidate for electrification.
In June 2021, VivoPower International announced that it had entered into a binding Letter of Intent with Toyota Motor Corporation Australia Limited, to create a collaboration program for electrification of LandCruiser vehicles using conversion kits designed and manufactured by VivoPower’s wholly-owned electric vehicle subsidiary, Tembo e-LV B.V.
Final terms are under negotiation, but upon completion, it is intended that VivoPower would become Toyota Australia’s exclusive partner for LandCruiser 70 electrification for a period of five years, with a further two-year option.
Kevin Chin, executive chairman and CEO of VivoPower said:
“We are extremely pleased to be collaborating with Toyota Motor Company Australia, on the electrification of their LandCruiser vehicles with our Tembo conversion kits.
“The LandCruiser is the vehicle of choice worldwide for mining and other ruggedised industries.
“This partnership is a testament to the outstanding potential of Tembo’s technology to decarbonise transportation in some of the world’s toughest and hardest to decarbonise industries.”
But Tembo isn’t the only company involve in electrifying LandCruisers. Here’s some history.
In late 2017 we were made aware of the Dutch-designed Tembo 4×4 e-LV ‘Cruiser, then being distributed in Australia by Western Australian based automotive wholesaler, Autoline. This model was launched in Europe in July 2016.
In early 2018 we discovered that Autoline had contracted NZ based electric heavy vehicle specialist maker, Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV), to build an electric conversion kit for the 79 Series LandCruiser.
Autoline is marketing the resulting RHD electric LandCruiser and as at early 2018 was still demonstrating a Tembo 4×4 LHD e-LV.
However, we understand that the Tembo 4×4 distribution is now through independent Australia-wide e-LV distributors and two been appointed: Adelaide-based Heavy Vehicle Electrics and GB Auto in Orange.
The first production Voltra battery-electric LandCruiser developed for Autoline was trialled in an Australian underground mine.
A Voltra spokesperson said: “The eCruiser offers trademark toughness and reliability to handle harsh and corrosive underground environments, but with massive savings on cost, downtime and maintenance, as well as long-term environmental sustainability.”
“This is a significant milestone for us,” said ZEV Chairman George Zander. “Our goal has always been the global market and this vehicle represents our first steps in the international arena.”
“The mining industry is a very stringent one in terms of process and regulations,” said Zander. “Electric drive provides huge health and safety benefits for the mines and its workers, as well as big reductions in the amount of maintenance a vehicle requires when it does not have a combustion engine.”
The Voltra was launched in September 2017 at EV World in Auckland and the latest vehicle includes refinements from customer feedback, to suit the harsh operating conditions it is intended for.
Conversion kits are designed and manufactured in New Zealand and are shipped to Australia, where Voltra staff assemble and fit them in Adelaide.
The Voltra eCruiser is powered by a 42kWh lithium ferro-phosphate battery pack and three-phase permanent magnet, radial flux motor, with peak power of 104kW and peak torque of 256Nm.
Claimed driving range on road is 150km and 100km off road.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands…
We contacted Tembo 4×4 when we were confused about who was selling what in Australasia and Tembo 4×4’s then principal, Frank Daams, told us that in late February 2018 his company had launched its second-generation LandCruiser e-LV, with considerable updates on the 2016 model.
The first model was developed in conjunction with Huber Group in Germany, but the latest development is with Actia in France.
The Tembo 4×4 e-LV EVO2 is the second edition of the world’s first zero emissions mining industry electric ute, featuring a completely new drivetrain and energy management system.
Frank Daams said: “Using all the data and feedback collected during the initial-model phase we can offer a vehicle that is even more robust, smoother to drive and better suited to the conditions
in the mining industry.”
The new vehicle was unveiled at the headquarters of FD 4×4 Centre in Bergeijk, the Netherlands, in front of an international audience.
Representatives of the mining industry, clients and suppliers were able to drive the vehicle and to examine the technical aspects of the vehicle with the Tembo 4×4 people who designed and built it.
The new drivetrain of the Tembo 4×4 e-LV has been designed using components certified for industrial use and readily available from reputable partners.
“Together with our French partner Actia we have selected an electric motor that is in use all over Europe,“ said Frank Daams.
“The compact size allows for a high position between the chassis rails, and a custom full-time-4WD gearbox transfers the power to the wheels.”
The full-time-4WD system eliminates the driveline damage that occurs in existing part-time-4WD LandCruiser mine vehicles that are locked in 4WD and driven on high-friction surfaces.
Power comes from an industry grade 28-42kWh battery pack, certified to ECE R100 and contained in a metal box. Forsee Power is one of the few battery companies able to offer the combination of quality and flexibility needed for the Tembo 4×4 e-LV.
Typical mine site range is 60-80km, but more batteries can be added for increased range.
Battery life is calculated at 8000 cycles at 80-percent depth of discharge (DOD) and 4500 cycles at 100-percent DOD.
Vehicle management is done by a can bus and telematics with remote access and a user and maintenance friendly interface. The ECU is accessed with a diagnostic tool and it can automatically share data with a server for maintenance and fleet management purposes. This simplifies maintenance on this already very simple and robust vehicle.
Huber is a third player in the electric LandCruiser market, but this German company’s marketing approach is different, supplying Run-E-Drive kits, not complete utes, to qualified mine-company suppliers in Australia, Canada, South Africa, South America, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
For Australia the Huber supplier is Miller Technology Incorporated, based in Redland Bay, Qld.
These companies retro-fit the Toyota units and complete them as ‘mine-ready’ units to regional mining companies. This approach avoids problems like left-hand-drive issues and allows integration of other market-specific requirements at the assembly stage. The concept also makes maintenance easier.
Huber has been involved with Bosch for many years, incorporating its electric components and inverter technology in Huber Run-E-Drive kits.
Huber started down the electric LandCruiser track with Dutch company Tembo4x4 in 2016. Due to different opinions about ‘time-to-market’ strategy and hardware issues, Tembo and Huber decided to go their separate ways.
Huber Automotive AG is an experienced Tier1 supplier to the European automotive Industry, including the giants, Daimler and VW, following their quality processes.
Huber says the Run-E E-Drive system for the Toyota LandCruiser follows this approach and is fully CE, ECE-R100 and ECE-R10 certified, using components from only renowned suppliers.
The electrified version of the Toyota LandCruiser preserves its original suitability for use in extreme environments, including underground mining and remains a 2WD/4WD vehicle with or without low-range gear reduction.
Huber`s innovative control unit is based on a 32-bit power architecture. Along with overall system integration and control, this high-performance platform enables access to diagnostic data via WIFI, using a smartphone or the operator’s IT/TN network server.
Claimed driving range is up to 150km (NEFZ), with electric power choices of 90kW or 60kW and tradability can be 45-percent. Powerful recharge-retardation allows one pedal driving that makes operation more relaxing and greatly extends brake service life. An electric parking brake is an option.
The company says the battery can be fully charged in less than two hours, increasing usability over some alternatives.
Toyota-BHP 70 Series
In January 2021 Toyota Australia began a local electric-vehicle pilot trial with Australia’s leading resources company, BHP.
The small-scale trial involved a LandCruiser 70 Series single-cab ute that was converted to a battery-electric vehicle by Toyota Australia’s Product Planning and Development division in Port Melbourne.
The converted vehicle was equipped for underground mine use under battery power alone.
The trial took place at a BHP Nickel West mine in Western Australia.
Given the 2021 deal with Tembo, we’re not sure where the BHP-Toyota experiment will go.