The Toyota Land Cruiser 70 is the living icon of the car industry. It was introduced in 1984, and still future proof. It has undergone dozens of improvements since then. However, its fame should be credited to its durability and toughness.
It is a basic work truck platform, and there is nothing strange that it has become very popular in the mining industry. However, it has one big problem if we want to use it in the underground tunnels. If you want to have a powerful version of the car (you need that power to work in tunnels), you will have to buy a vehicle with a diesel V6 or V8 engine.
The emissions created by a diesel engine are much more dangerous in a closed place, such as a mining tunnel. They have both short and long-term risks to health: headaches, irritations, nausea, cancer and even chemical asphyxiation caused by carbon monoxide. In order to partially reduce the dangers, a complex mine ventilation is used. Usually, this costs around 20%-40% of the total operation’s budget.
Therefore, the Australian company named Voltra decided to convert a two-door Land Cruiser pickup truck to electric power. They named the project the eCruiser. It uses lithium-ion batteries and they can be recharged by regenerative braking. They successfully managed to keep everything people need from Land Cruiser: four-wheel drive, power, toughness, and durability.
The biggest advantage of eCruiser is the fact that it produces zero harmful emissions. Additionally, it saves a lot on maintenance (less moving parts in the powertrain – fewer repairs), fuel, emission testings, mine ventilation. It produces less heat and noise as well, making the tunnel a more comfortable environment for workers.
At the moment there is only one example of this car. The company is evaluating the project to see if series production would make sense.