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Tomcar launches all-terrain EV

Watts new: Tomcar’s new electric drivetrain was developed with local EV experts Energetique, while its batteries are also made in Australia using an ‘agnostic’ approach for future upgrade capacity.

Emissions-free Tomcar billed as Australia’s first series-production electric car

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Tomcar logo23 May 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

MELBOURNE-BASED all-terrain vehicle manufacturer Tomcar continues to buck the trend of local automotive manufacturing, expanding its go-anywhere line-up with the country’s first series-production electric car.

The Tomcar LV1 will cut its teeth underground in Australia’s punishing hard-rock mining industry with a number of prototypes given trials with blue-chip mining organisations, but a “different” consumer-focused EV variant will arrive by the end of 2017, alongside the company’s current range of petrol and diesel models.

The company is also now planning to switch its entire range to a full-electric powertrain by 2018, doing away with internal combustion engines altogether.

Priced from about $75,000, the new version has been rigorously developed to endure the harsh mining environment, which poses numerous hazards, low light and a brutal acid and alkali attack of metallic structures.

The LV1 has a 100kW/300Nm brushless motor drivetrain that sends power to the rear wheels via the company’s innovative sealed transmission/suspension system that gives all Tomcars capable all-terrain ability.

Power is stored by a lithium-ion battery pack that can be specified from 12kWh to 20kWh depending on the application, and can be fully recharged in 30 minutes using a DC high-output system that is commonly found at mining sites.

Unlike road-going EVs that have a range rated in kilometres, the commercially focused Tomcar battery capacity is said to last one shift.

In an interview with GoAuto, Tomcar Australia co-founder and CEO David Brim said that as part of the 60 per cent of locally sourced components, the company was using an ‘agnostic’ approach to build the LV1 batteries in Australia, which allows future upgrades as the technology advances.

“We are taking an agnostic approach to the batteries,” he said. “We make the batteries here in Australia, we bring the lithium-ion cells in and we build the battery here and it’s a cooled system, but because it’s agnostic we can use different types of battery technology.

“As the battery technology changes we can actually improve our batteries.”

Production of the first LV1-series cars will start in November this year, and Mr Brim said that Tomcar’s foray into electrification has revealed how “archaic” combustion technology is, prompting a new company mission.

“Tomcar’s new mission is we are going to be fully electric by 2018, the whole range, but obviously it needs to be suitable for our application so that’s why we are picking the hardest industry to crack first,” he said.

“The toughest environment is underground hard-rock mining so once we can conquer that, it’s a no brainer on a cattle station.”

With the production model honed in Australia’s hostile mine environment, Mr Brim said the model offered for consumer sales would be “different” but just a durable.

“I can’t go into too much detail about the consumer model, but it’s a very different offering. It’s electric but it’s a different offering. I want to offer an eco-system for customers.”

Australian electric vehicle specialists Energetique were commissioned by Tomcar to assist in the development of both the electric drivetrain control systems and a new vehicle systems control console.

“The inventor is an amazing guy – Dr Phillip Coop and he is leading our Tomcar EV project and he has written the algorithms and software and actually implemented this incredible electric design into the Tomcar,” Mr Brim said.

“They are an incredible company and world-class EV specialists.”

Mr Brim explained that assembling the mechanicals of an electric vehicle was a relatively simple process that almost anyone could do, but it was the control systems and software that posed a more significant challenge.

“It’s the software that is keeping the performance of the Tomcar and giving you the power when you need it. We build an HID – human interface device – and it’s IP66 and touchscreen and amazing. That’s the software we had to build,” he said.

“The engine control unit is the first (developed) in Australia. We are really pushing the technological boundaries.”

By offering zero emissions, the LV1 is particularly appealing to mining companies, following the discovery that diesel particulates are carcinogenic to humans, but Mr Brim explained that the electric drivetrain offered the highest performance of the Tomcar range “without a doubt”.

While the new version is Australia’s first series-production electric car, it cannot take the title as the first production vehicle of its kind, with that title falling to Bustech, which produces a 21,000Nm electric bus in Queensland.

Before that, Dr Coop and Energetique had been locally retrofitting electric drivetrains to a number of cars that used the Mazda2, Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Caddy van as their basis.

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