EV 79 Series ‘eCruiser’ is here

There has long been talk of electric powered 4X4s taking over from conventionally powered vehicles into the future. Well, it seems the future isn’t actually that far off with Voltra building and trialling the first eCruiser in the BHP Olympic Dam fleet. 

The first, of what is expected to be many Electric Light Vehicles (ELVs) arrived at the Roxby Downs site in South Australia earlier this month and has been undergoing final testing before it joins the 240-strong diesel powered fleet this month.

Want to see it ‘off-road’? Have a go at this:


The new eCruiser is powered exclusively by lithium ion batteries, and has undergone some rather rigorous testing both in Adelaide, as well as at the Te Rere Hau wind farm in New Zealand (yep, they plugged the thing into a wind turbine to charge it back up again!)

What coal-fired power plant?

“The #OlympicDamSquad is bringing on board its first electric light vehicle as part of a company-wide trial aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, exposure to diesel particulate, and costs across our global organisation,” BHP said in a Facebook post this week.

“The adapted 4X4 Toyota LandCruiser ute arrived in Roxby Downs earlier this month and has been undergoing final testing before it joins our 240-vehicle underground fleet in July. Powered by a lithium ion battery, it will be monitored for performance, power supply, maintenance requirements, charging time and corrosion resistance underground. The data we collect will be shared across BHP to help accelerate the broader deployment of electric light vehicles.”

Swapped out the 1VD-FTV for lithium ion and an electric motor

Voltra have said there are a lot of benefits to running the ELV fleet, from the reduction in heat from using internal combustion engines, security required when handling flammable fuels, the reduction in cost of maintenance (they don’t run gearboxes, nor do they require oil changes), the motors being fully sealed units, and the obvious reduction in costs of diesel. The fuel costs associated are expected to be between 10-20% cheaper for recharging compared to refuelling fuel tanks, not to mention maintenance and repair costs.

Voltra have already stated that they are already working on a second ELV for the BHP fleet, before looking into large scale production of the eCruiser’s. Welcome to the future.


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  • What disturbs me most, is the fact that on most electric vehicle stories I’VE SEEN, promoting such vehicles, the full story on performance is never told, in the one place. I’m sure you can waterproof almost anything and while electric motor torque is well understood, it’s seldom disclosed. Similarly, the range is either hidden or not related to distance Versus load. If fuel saving is only 10+%, you can get that with an aftermarket chip and you can still carry your own “recharge” fuel in a can for long runs. Charge times are also, seemingly, listed under the most favourable conditions. (not to mention, availability just when you need it)

    Like LP gas, years ago, the refiling / recharging points will ultimately come but if you have to spend 30 to 90 minutes for a refill, who wants to do that?. What if you are not ‘next’ in the charge up line? Heaven forbid if you have a car or truck full of hungry passengers. The Makers bill would out strip the fuel.

  • Lol it’s not being marketed as a joe blow 4wd, its begin converted and aimed at large mining fleets.
    That said if it can survive the riggers or underground hard rock mining and the muppets that drive them like they are stolen what ever joe blow throws at them will be nothing in comparison.

  • I agree with many of the comments above. It simply does not cut it as a serious 4WD suited to the long distances of the aussie outback for the average aussie. Call that a ‘review’? No way Jose. Not a word about ability to be fully immersed in water crossings, range between charges. How on earth to charge it effectively when in remote areas days or a week from a charging station? A lousy 10% savings of the cost of recharging compared to fuel? What is the recharge time? And compared to what vehicle? What is the range between charges for a FULLY LOADED vehicle? What is the engine torque? Can it do long steep rocky low-range 4WD tracks with the same as a FULLY LOADED ‘fuel economy’ as petrol or diesel? Does the vehicle even have the equivalent of low range capability? Can it power a 110-litre Waeco fridge continuously for three days yet still start the car and go say 800 km to a recharge station? Where are the recharge stations – none at all in the true outback, that’s for sure! Try finding a recharge station halfway along the Canning Stock Route! For how many km of a FULLY LOADED vehicle will the battery last and what is the cost of a new battery and its installation? What are the risks of the battery it uses vs petrol or diesel?

  • I expect it would no less waterproof/corrosion resistant than current 4×4 under bonnet electrics. At least there would be no risk of ingesting water during a river crossing. Still need diff breathers though. I would consider one if the range was good and recharge time max 30mins. Doubt I could afford though.

  • Please explain deep water crossings. I sometimes drive 4 days without seeing a fuel station how are you supposed to charge up in the middle of nowhere

  • Impressive but I don’t drive around the country side with an empty vehicleHow will it perform with a full load and/or towing a camper

  • re the comment about “spark danger, electric vehicles use brushless motors and solid state swtiching, the capacity to spark would on;ly be present when connecting/disconnecting live circuits which i am sure safety procedures would negate

  • We run 79s and hiluxs in NW WA in a mine 400km inland from Hedland. It’s that corrosive that the trays on all vehicles are completely rusted out out. I wonder hiw this thing would go when the entire front is under water when crossing creeks.

  • Can someone actually show a cost comparison and a life cycle analysis of electric vs diesel/petrol. A 10-20% Reduction reduction vs fuel great. So then the “no oil changes” vs the cost of lithium batteries at end of life, and it’s not a maintenance free vehicle, you still have an engine, suspension, drive train. The safety aspect in my mind doesn’t stack up either, yeah it’s not a combustion engine, but it still has the potential to spark, its electric??? Also look up Lithium Thermal Runaway.


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