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VASA member GB Auto signs $250M EV deal

Australian heavy vehicle, fleet and mobile equipment specialist GB Auto has signed a $250 million ($A322m) deal to supply electric conversion kits for 4x4s.

The VASA member company, which is headquartered in Orange, New South Wales, will now be the exclusive Australia-wide distributor of products from Tembo – a Netherlands-based manufacturer of electric light vehicles, designed for industrial and commercial applications, which is owned by sustainable energy solutions company VivoPower. 

GB Auto, which has over 30 years’ experience in the mining field and more than 130 employees, has committed to purchasing upwards of 2000 Tembo 4×4 e-LV electric conversion kits over the next four years.

The conversion kits can be used to electrify Toyota’s 70 Series LandCruiser and Hilux, which are common choices in industrial, fleet and mining applications. 

Offering conversions means, as a result, that companies can retain their existing vehicles while reducing their environmental impact.

Electric vehicles offer many advantages in heavy-duty applications, such as increased reliability, reduced running costs, zero emissions and low heat production – the latter two helping alleviate ventilation and temperature control challenges in underground mining situations. 

GB Auto states that the value of the orders in its initial planned four-year span will generate some $A322 million in revenue.

The company will also partner with VivoPower to finance, construct and service charging, battery storage and power infrastructure solutions.

“We are excited to partner with VivoPower as its Tembo electric vehicles are ideally suited to the needs of our customers in the mining sector,” said Graeme Bensley, CEO and Founder of GB Auto.

“We are already witnessing strong demand for these vehicles, and this agreement bolsters our ability to play a prominent role in the overall drive to improve the sustainability of our economy.” 

The flexible Tembo e-LV electric powertrain used in the conversion is a heavy-duty sealed and waterproofed system, produced in Europe, and it is reported to offer up to 160-200km of real-world range in mining applications.

OEM LandCruiser EV heads underground

Toyota Australia has developed an all-electric LandCruiser ute that will be tested by Australian resource company BHP in underground mine applications. 

The 70 Series single cab ute was converted to electric power by Toyota Australia’s product planning and development division, which is based in Port Melbourne.

BHP will test the vehicle at a nickel mine in Western Australia, in order to assess its suitability and capabilities in underground mine use. 

Edgar Basto, BHP’s president of Minerals Australia, said: “This partnership is another step in our ongoing studies into how we can reduce the emissions intensity of our light-vehicle fleet.

“Reducing our reliance on diesel at our operations will help achieve our medium-term target of reducing operational emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.”

The development of the converted LandCruiser also marks yet another step in Toyota’s transition to a zero-emissions future. Other recent all-electric commercial debuts include electric versions of the Toyota Proace and Proace City vans. 

Driverless Ford Rangers take to the Australian mines

Australian iron ore company Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) has deployed four autonomous Ford Rangers in an effort to increase efficiency and safety.

The Rangers, developed by Fortescue’s Technology and Autonomy team in collaboration with Ford Australia, will be used to transfer equipment and parts. These autonomous light vehicles will minimise the need for fitters to make 12,000 trips each year, each averaging 28km, to collect components and tools. 

Safety-related benefits aside, the fitters will be able to spend more time maintaining equipment. Fortescue says its existing automated haulage has already delivered notable efficiency and productivity improvements.

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