Cylinders replaced by cells.
The world’s least likely candidate for powertrain electrification has been revealed.
Unquestionably the hardiest of all bakkies, Toyota’s Land Cruiser 70 single-cab, is undergoing a battery test cycle in Australia.
Although the Land Cruiser 70 is unavailable in most developed markets, these bakkies remain enormously popular in Australia, for many of the reasons they are such legends in the South African environment: durability.
Despite the current Land Cruiser design dating to 1984, the integrity of its engineering has allowed this bakkie to become essentially timeless. For hardcore mining, construction and agriculture applications, the Land Cruiser 70 remains unrivalled.
The idea of replacing its six- or eight-cylinder diesel engine options with a battery pack and electric motor, would appear very odd, but that is exactly what Toyota is prototyping.
Partnering with one of the world’s biggest mining companies, BHP, Toyota’s Australian engineers are attempting to retrofit an electric power- and drivetrain to the Land Cruiser 70 single-cab.
Although Toyota is not at liberty to reveal who it is sourcing the batteries from, or what their energy density is, the Land Cruiser 70 electric looks very capable.
One of the benefits of replacing its conventional engine options with a battery pack and electric motors will be a significantly reduced centre of gravity. This should give the bakkie better stability at cruising speeds, on gravel roads, and make it less intimidating to drive at extreme pitch and roll angles, off-road.
For BHP the primary objective is to reduce the fire risk at its mining operations. Although diesel fuel has a much lower flash risk than petrol, many of these bakkies do venture underground, into the mining infrastructure, where any fire is potentially catastrophic.
With a battery power source and electric power, the risk of fire is negligible.
One of the interesting modifications that can be seen on this Land Cruiser electric prototype, is the wraparound plastic bullbar. It appears to be moulded from a high-impact polymer and looks great, whilst also providing most of the protection that you would expect from a steel bullbar, at a much lower mass.