When it comes to automotive news, there is a never-ending barrage of stories about how this carmaker or another is embracing all-electric vehicles. Even though companies like Tesla are leading the charge, other more ‘traditional’ carmakers are also following suit, which is why it’s no surprise when we hear that they’re building new EV models.
Toyota Electrifies the Land Cruiser
Yet, hearing about Toyota’s EV Land Cruiser still surprised us. That’s right! Imagine an absolute workhorse like the 70 Series Land Cruiser, with its guts ripped out and converted into an all-electric version.
For many people, including myself, that’s pretty hard to imagine. Yet, that’s exactly what Toyota is working on right now in conjunction with a non-automotive player, BHP, a multinational corporation known more for its work in mining.
So, what’s going on here?
Testing the LandCruiser EV at Kalgoorlie WA
Okay, so here’s what’s going on.
BHP and Toyota are currently working together to test a LandCruiser EV at BHP's Nickel West Mine in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Leading this effort on the Toyota side of things is their Port Melbourne office, and they're using a modified 70 Series single-cab ute Land Cruiser Workmate.
Now, the Nickel West Mine is an integrated facility in the sense that they have underground mines and above-ground operations as well. Overall, the facility operations include mining for nickel and turning it into powder and briquettes.
The use of the electric Land Cruiser is focused on underground ops based on the little available information, so that’s presumably where it will spend most of its time.
The Electric Toyota Land Cruiser Test Vehicle
As mentioned before, the vehicle in question is a 70 Series Land Cruiser Workmate in a single-cab ute configuration.
So, what did they do with it?
Well, they took out the 4.5-litre turbo diesel V8 engine and converted it into an EV that runs purely on battery power. That comes as no surprise considering that the EV LandCruiser is underground the entire time, making solar power unfeasible.
There are no details about the LandCruiser EV’s drivetrain or even how it’s charged for the time being. They’ve been quite secretive about it, and that’s understandable. However, they have indicated that they’ll release more information about the project in the near future.
At this point, we can only speculate that charging could happen both above and below ground, wherever there’s a power supply of some sort.
Benefits of an EV LandCruiser to BHP and Toyota
There could be two reasons for BHP’s interest in electric vehicles, namely to reduce harmful emissions and reduce their dependency on diesel-powered work vehicles.
Big-picture, BHP is aiming to reduce 30% of its emissions by the year 2030.
With so little information available, we can only speculate about the implications of this project. Firstly, if they’re successful with their test vehicle, that could usher in a new wave of all-electric versions of the LandCruiser and similar workhorses. That’s on Toyota’s side of things, at least.
For BHP and companies like it, adopting all-electric work vehicles could reduce their dependence on fossil fuels while making them more eco-friendly overall. Switching to EVs could also make it easier to maintain their fleets in the long run.
Mining and other heavy operations, especially those that take place underground, may also end up being safer and more efficient as well.
Plus, let’s be honest, mining and energy companies don’t exactly have the best track records when it comes to environmental friendliness. Switching to using the electric Land Cruiser as a standard fleet vehicle could improve their optics to the general public.
However, it’s too early to tell. Remember that it’s only a pilot test with a single test vehicle in play. In the meantime, we can only speculate about it until they begin to release more details about the outcome of this undertaking.
BHP was formerly known as BHP Billiton, with its headquarters currently in Melbourne. It’s a multinational corporation dealing with mining, petroleum, and metals. Over the decades, the company has received criticism for the effects of its business operations on the natural environment.
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By Ray Hasbollah