Is this the future of 4x4?

Article By: Tristan Tancredi (Wheels) (4x4 Australia)

Aussie company ZERO Automotive launches all-electric 4WD based on the Toyota 79 Series LandCruiser.

Zero Automotive ZED70 launched newsAUSTRALIAN company Zero Automotive has officially launched its ZED70 ute, an all-electric vehicle based on the venerable Toyota 79 Series LandCruiser.

The ZED70 – an acronym for Zero Emission Drive 70 – runs a 100 per cent electric drivetrain that utilises a 700Nm electric ‘permanent magnet’ motor powered by a bank of lithium-ion batteries with a total capacity of 88kWh – although a battery capacity upgrade to 115kWh is available. Regenerative braking is utilised, and the battery life cycle is listed at more than 10 years.

Zero Automotive claims a theoretical range of up to 350km, with a four-hour charge time. However, the Australian company says a one-hour full charge option will also be available shortly.

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To protect all the important bits, battery and motor subframes have been strengthened and are now more “structurally rigid”, while the batteries are housed in robust 3mm-thick boxes. Overall weight is 216kg more than a standard 79 Series.

Zero Automotive’s Tim Possingham told us the ZED70 is ADR compliant and road legal, and, while it’s primarily aimed at the mining, petrochemical, agricultural and government sectors, anyone can buy one.

Tim explained that the most popular choice – 88kWh battery, dual-cab configuration, carpet trim and alloy wheels – is priced close to $200,000. He added that farmers, in particular, are showing strong interest in the vehicle, especially those with solar-charging facilities.

There are a number of benefits to ditching diesel and opting for electricity: no fumes (ideal for national parks), no sparks or risk of backfire, it cleans diesel particulates in confined spaces (mines), and it helps to meet reduced corporate emissions targets – “plus it’s completely silent and unbelievably smooth to drive,” adds Tim.

Read more: Everything you need to know about electric cars

A few other clever, modern touches include more control via GPS-operated speed limiting (ideal for mining sites), and cameras facing the driver can modulate vehicle dynamics – for example, if the camera notices the driver staring out the side window, it will drop the speed.

A number of options are available including full vehicle telematics, mine-compliance upgrades, geo-fencing, GVM upgrades, and body and tray upgrades.

The ZED70 is manufactured in Edwardstown, South Australia, and is currently undergoing its first public trial in Adelaide. It’s available in wagon, dual-cab, single-cab and TroopCarrier configurations.

Once ordered, production takes in excess of six months.

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