Toyota Land Cruiser 70 gets EV upgrade
EV version of rugged truck being tested at BHP nickel mine Metal Tech News – January 13, 2021
Last updated 1/19/2021 at 4:19pm
Mining giant BHP and Toyota Australia have teamed up to convert the Land Cruiser 70, a rugged and retro Toyota workhorse in Australia, to an electric truck that will retain the toughness for which this vehicle is renowned but without the exhaust that comes with the typical 4.5-liter diesel V8 engine.
Available in SUV and pickup versions, the Land Cruiser 70 has been produced in Australia since 1984 and is a popular vehicle in the mines there.
An electric Land Cruiser 70 is being run through its paces at BHP's Nickel West Mine in Western Australia, where it is expected to be used in both aboveground and underground settings.
This locale is fitting when you consider the major growth in demand for nickel being driven by its use in the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles.
"The battery in the Toyota EV Landcruiser also contains a high proportion of nickel," said Eddy Haegel, asset president at Nickel West. "With Nickel West being both a battery raw material producer and consumer in the electric vehicle market, it is a terrific opportunity to support Toyota with their understanding and development of electric vehicles for the mining industry, whilst also reducing the carbon footprint from our own nickel operations."
The addition of all-electric light vehicles to its fleet at the Nickel Mountain Mine is part of BHP's larger climate goals.
"This partnership is another step in our ongoing studies into how we can reduce the emissions intensity of our light vehicle fleet," said BHP Minerals Australia President Edgar Basto. "Reducing our reliance on diesel at our operations will help achieve our medium-term target of reducing operational emissions by 30% by 2030."
The Toyota Australia-built Land Cruiser 70 also expands upon light electric vehicle trials being carried out at other BHP mines in Australia. At Olympic Dam, one of the largest copper mines on Earth, BHP has already tested Land Cruiser 70s that were converted to electric by Australia-based Voltra.
Dubbed the eCruiser by Voltra, this vehicle was designed specifically to stand up to the rigors of underground mining.
"Removing the source of the exhaust emission eliminates the problem, provides a safer working environment, and reduces the enormous cost of removing contaminated air," according to Voltra. "Additionally, because electric motors do not generate the heat associated with internal combustion engines, the thermal signature of the vehicle and subsequent heat build-up in the mine is minimal, as well as reducing the security required when handling, transporting and storing flammable fuels on site."
The difference between the Voltra eCruisers being used at Olympic Dam and the Land Cruiser 70 being tested at Nickel West is the latter was designed and built by Toyota Australia, a first for its product planning and development division.
Toyota Australia President and CEO Matthew Callachor said the trial is another step along the Japan automaker's path to a zero emissions future.
"BHP and Toyota have demonstrated a strong relationship throughout the last 20 years, and this project is a great testament to how we can both work together as leading companies in our respective industries to change the future," he said.