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]