This Is Australia's First Electric Car

After two years of research and development in Melbourne and Armidale, the first electric car to be fully designed and built in Australia is about to kick-start local manufacturing in Victoria. The Tomcar LV1, designed for the mining industry, is the first EV from a company with a background in off-road recreational carts and buggies, and is the most Australian vehicle to be assembled in the country for a long time.

Tomcar has been building 2- and 4-seater petrol and diesel buggies and ATVs since 2011 with the help of automotive manufacturer MTM, which has also produced components for General Motors and Ford vehicles. The LV-1 is the company's first electric vehicle, and the group enlisted the help of Armidale-based Energetique -- which built the EVME electric car in 2008 -- to supply an electric drivetrain.

The "world's toughest EV" uses a 100kW/300Nm electric motor, with 12-20kWh battery packs available, and a variety of battery and motor variants suiting different use cases. Being built tough and producing zero emissions during operation, the Tomcar LV-1 makes sense for the closed, deep tunnels of Australia's many mines. Where the Holden Cruze contains 4 per cent local components, according to Tomcar, the LV-1 is built from around 60 per cent Australian parts and will be hand-built like the company's other vehicles at its Melbourne factory.

Tomcar's off-road vehicles have "the centre of gravity of a Porsche" and can tip on a 45-degree angle without rolling -- useful for navigating the inclines of underground tunnels and aboveground roads generally travelled by much larger vehicles. Being electric, the cars can be recharged from a central location within mine corridors, cutting down on the amount of fuel required to be brought in.

Tomcar's CEO David Brim says the ongoing project is a ray of light for Australia's struggling local automotive manufacturing industry: "We have been working with Energetique on this project for over a year, keeping it secret while creating the world’s toughest EV - to be built right here in Australia. The entire vehicle is being developed here, including the unique proprietary software and our incredible powertrain system design."

Production of the LV-1 will start in November this year, with deliveries planned in early 2017. [Tomcar]