In a world of surging automotive electrification, could South Africa’s most legendary bakkie get a second-lease on life? This is the issue facing Toyota’s Land Cruiser 70 Series.
Where serious mining, construction or farming is done, there is generally only one accepted bakkie: the Land Cruiser 70.
Virtually unchanged in terms of appearance for nearly three decades, the Land Cruiser 70 Series is antiquated in many respects. But it is this vehicle’s unbreakable nature and incredible reliability make it the bakkie of choice for geologists, construction teams and farmers who work the land far away from mechanical service support.
How much longer can the Land Cruiser 70 Series survive in world of escalating safety and emissions regulation? The answer to its future longevity could be batteries.
Electrifying a legend
For those ardent Land Cruiser bakkie fans the notion of an electrically powered 70 Series, as opposed to the in-line six or V8 diesel engines which have made it so iconic, would appear unfeasible.
Dutch automotive engineering consultancy, Tembo, have built a fleet of battery converted Land Cruiser bakkies for the Australian mining industry and the hardcore 4×4 appears to be curiously suited to electrification.
Powering these zero emissions Land Cruisers are a choice of two battery packs: either a 28kWh battery (good for 80km of range) or a larger 56kWh unit, capable of 160km of driving endurance. Those numbers might be too limited for Cape to Cairo overlanding explorers, but for farming or mining application, few bakkies run past 80km in a day’s work.
Both battery units produce the same power and torque figures, 110kW and 250Nm. Those numbers rate as 14kW more powerful but 30Nm torque deficient, compared to a 4.2-litre diesel powered Land Cruiser.
What those numbers don’t take into consideration is the extreme gearing these electric Land Cruisers use as their drive ratio. In extreme off-road terrain a low-range engaged electric Land Cruiser will turn an immense 1866Nm of torque at the wheels, enabling it to climb a 45-degree gradient with ease whilst loaded.
For South Africans farmers who believe that a Land Cruiser bakkie is the only vehicle which can successfully deputise for a broken down tractor or light truck when the need arises, and already have solar panels on their land, these battery-powered bakkies could be a great vehicle asset.
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