TWO models of EV utes converted from Toyota 4WDs are poised to hit the Australian market, aimed primarily at mining and allied industries but also showing promise for leisure seekers.

The utes — based on current model Hilux and Land Cruiser 79 Series models — a each come from Adelaide-based Zero Automotive and from Roev Australia, based in Brisbane.

Each Roev electric Hilux will displace around 10 tonnes of CO2 each year, while each Zero ute would displace around 12 tonnes of CO2 every year, based on 40,000km of driving.

Zero isn’t new to the EV conversion space. Its latest ute, launched this month, is its second-generation example and is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Series.

Called the Zero ZED70 Ti, it is a substantial upgrade on the first generation and now has 50 per cent more power, almost double the torque (to 1200Nm) and fast charging in under half an hour.

Zero founder, engineer Dave Mitchell has aimed it at the underground mining sector — an incredibly harsh environment fo.r any vehicle and one that normally has a vehicle lifespan measured in months.

Barminco, one of the world’s biggest hard-rock underground mining services companies, has signed on as the first customer to accept delivery of the model.

More units are expected to be delivered when production gears up towards the end of next year.

The EV utes are designed for underground operations where exhaust and fuel emissions are critical to the air quality.

Zero’s design features its proprietary HEPS (Hazardous Environment Protection System) underbody armour protection, which will help to dramatically increase the longevity and safety of the vehicle’s chassis in underground applications. HEPS will also be available as an upgrade for current diesel-powered vehicles.

Zero CEO Joe Di Santo said: “Ultimately, the goal for Zero Automotive is to become a leader in electrified vehicle drivelines, which is why we are working with trusted industry partners such as Zero’s lithium-titanate oxide (LTO) battery supplier Toshiba, as we look to continue to develop quality solutions that will improve the sustainability of mining.”

Under the bonnet, the ZED70 Ti features a Toshiba 60kWh LTO drive battery, which retains over 70 percent capacity after 20,000 full-use cycles.

It features 22kW Level 2 onboard fast charging and is enabled for Level 3 DC ultra-fast charging, which, with a 160kW charger, results in a charging time of less than 25 minutes.

The 3-phase asynchronous electric motor is complete with regenerative braking, with a peak power of 200kW and a peak torque of 1200Nm.

With a focus on safety, the system features an isolator switch, manual service disconnect, a full battery management system, automatic electrical isolators, multiple mechanical HV isolators, fast-acting fusible links, an insulation monitoring device, and an eBrake.

All important functions of the vehicle can be monitored by the GeoTab telematics platform.

Based on the single or dual-cab Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Series, the ZED70 Ti features many of the legacy systems that have given the model an outstanding reputation in the mining field, with items such as the transfer case, front and rear suspension, brakes and rear differential carried over from Toyota.

Roev CEO and co-founder Noah Wasmer said demand for commercial EVs far outweighs current supply and Australian fleets are looking for a range of solutions to electrify their vehicles. 

“There is huge demand for light commercial EV’s in Australia and electric conversions provide an important option to accelerate our energy transition, particularly in the fleet market where businesses are racing to decarbonise,” he said.

Mr Wasmer said demand for Roev from the resources and construction sectors will see production of over 1000 electric Hilux utes in the first 12 months, with the first becoming available from February 2024.

Roev is also involved in a major pilot program in WA’s northwest, where several resource companies will implement the vehicles into their operations.

“Organisations across the board are facing increasing pressure to transition their light commercial fleets to meet ESG targets, but until now there hasn’t been a 4x4 electric ute available. The arrival of the Roev Electric 4x4 Hilux has changed that,” he said.

“Another key concern is testing and safety and this is where Roev is leading the market in the electric conversion space.

“Roev’s best-practice systems, testing and processes ensure each conversion kit is safe, tailored and seamlessly integrates with the Hilux’s existing structural integrity and standard safety systems,” Mr Wasmer said.

He said commercial EVs provided a significant opportunity to reduce Australia’s emissions.

“In 2022, the transport sector made up 19 percent of emissions, but without intervention, it’s projected to be Australia’s largest source of emissions by 2030,” he said.

“The Hilux is Australia’s best-selling ute, and every converted Roev 4x4 EV Hilux has the potential to reduce C02 emissions by over 100 tonnes through its usable lifespan.”

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Jordan Ballard

Jordan Ballard

Automotive Content Editor

Jordan is a car finance and automotive industry specialist at Only Cars. With over 20 years of experience with frontline and management roles in sales, finance and other areas, Jordan has an incredible understanding of the automotive industry. As Automotive Content Editor, Jordan loves sharing his passion for cars with the Only Cars audience.