While the notion of electric Toyota pick-ups seems like something that’s years away (or just 12 to 24 months away if you’re a politician), they do already technically exist.
Over in Australia, a small firm in Orange (near Bathurst) called GB Auto has been converting Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series and Hilux models from internal combustion to electric. It’s been in the news several times for supplying vehicles to the local mining industry, and for signing an AU$327million deal back in February to convert some 2000 vehicles for the commercial sector.
Now, the firm’s Land Cruiser product has been given a seal of approval directly from Toyota. It recently received a letter of intent from Toyota Motor Company Australia to supply electric 70 Series’ to sell around Australia.
GB Auto uses a conversion kit sourced from Tembo, a subsidiary of VivoPower. The converted models will be completely road legal and ADR approved. Each will get a 72kWh battery pack, which represents a handy upgrade over the 28kWh packs fitted to initial models, with power and torque rated at 110kW/250Nm.
“At the end of the day, they chose our product,” GB Auto general manager Bill Dunlop told GoAuto. “It’s definitely exciting, and people have a lot of faith in the Toyota product and their systems and processes and quality and so on, so it’s fantastic to be aligned with that.
“They’ve chosen the product that we have as the best product to be aligned with Toyota.
“Next stage is to go to a Master Services Agreement for the supply of those battery electric kits – we’re excited obviously because the products that we are already supplying and have trialled with customers, we’re now able to work directly with Toyota on those and build essentially to Toyota standards with their input.”
Cost is still a big stumbling block for any hopes of mass mainstream adoption of electric Land Cruisers. As it stands they will cost public buyers around AU$200,000 a pop. This is thanks in part to how the conversions work. GB Auto does not get the donor vehicles on any kind of wholesale rate, instead buying the model directly from Toyota dealerships, like any other consumer.
To off-set pricing, Dunlop says he sells off a lot of the components that aren’t used in the conversion, including the 70 Series V8 engines.
“There’s a very strong market for those unused V8s,” he added. “It’s really interesting, the number of people who have called about that – there’s been just a farmer who wants one because he blew one up in his farm ute through to companies that just want a constant stream of them.
“It’s the whole lot, it’s not just an engine or a gearbox, you’re talking everything to do with diesel; all your fuel tanks, every bracket that holds all that stuff in, your exhaust systems, your radiator, your air-con, because it all gets swapped out.”