TWO new Australian electric ute makers have this week shown that the EV ute is reality and that, by targeting the heavy-duty end of the mining industry, they are more than capable of meeting extremes of durability and reliability. The two – Roev and Zero – announced they have entered the leasing and rental market through national fleet specialists CarBon. Roev and Zero Automotive each launched their commercial-ready utes – a HiLux dual-cab and a 79-Series single-cab respectively – to fleet operators, predominantly from the mining and resources support services sector, at a function in Perth. WA minister for the environment; climate change, Reece Whitby MLA who officiated at the function, said that innovative EVs like the Roev and ZERO utes would help drive a “great transition” in WA’s resources sector. Mr Whitby also took a swing at the previous federal government saying the initiative showed that Australia can have an electric ute, and that it wouldn’t mean the “end of weekends”. This was a reference to (then) prime minister Scott Morrison’s 2019 statement dismissing EVs by saying they will “not tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat. It’s not going to get you out to your favourite camping spot.” CarBon is now in the process of taking those utes to the next level by introducing them to corporate fleets. Its CEO and co-founder, Scott Gillespie, told GoAutoNews Premium that his company has committed to 500 Roev utes for its clients, representing half of Roev’s expected 1000 production in 2024. He said that CarBon has also agreed to buy 200 of Zero Automotive’s ZED70 Ti utes – based on LandCruiser 79-Series utes – for mining clients. He said the second-generation ZED70 Ti had already undergone five years of development in harsh underground conditions and companies were eager to deploy them at a range of projects. In addition, Zero Automotive is now entering into the commercialisation phase of setting up its business operations to become a vehicle driveline supplier to Australian and international vehicle assemblers. “Mining operations across Australia are facing increasing pressure to transition their fleets to meet ESG targets and the Zero ZED70 Ti represents a new opportunity to do this in the light commercial space,” Mr Gillespie said. “We’ve already received a great deal of interest and look forward to deploying these innovative EVs to a range of customers in 2024.” The latest ZED70 Ti has 50 per cent more power than the first generation, with 1200Nm of torque. It also has fast charging in under half an hour. It features Zero’s ‘Hazardous Environment Protection System’ underbody armour protection, which dramatically increases the longevity and safety of the vehicle’s chassis in corrosive underground conditions. “The Zero utes will start production in August next year and will be available to clients,” he said. “Zero has spent three years perfecting the electrical increase of 79-Series for underground, making it safe and long lasting compared to its diesel sibling. “These vehicles will have prolonged lifespans using innovations such as chassis protection systems developed by Zero. That means a longer life, less cost in the longer term, less maintenance and reduced waste.” Zero Automotive CEO Joe Di Santo said his company had been working alongside mining companies in their pursuit to lower their environmental impact and find solutions for the very specific needs of underground mining. “Following five years of development, and two years with prototype vehicles under test by Barminco and AusMinerals, we couldn’t be prouder to officially unveil the ZED70 Ti,” he said. “Underground mining is an incredibly tough environment for vehicles, and we know we have gone above and beyond to develop this ADR approved package that is up for the task. “For instance, our HEPS solution can withstand use in highly corrosive environments, which will genuinely increase the longevity and safety of the vehicles in the long term. “Ultimately, the goal for Zero Automotive is to become a leader in electrified vehicle drivelines, which is why we are working with trusted industry partners such as Zero’s lithium-titanate oxide (LTO) battery supplier Toshiba, as we look to continue to develop quality solutions that will improve the sustainability of mining.” Mr Gillespie said the two EV utes would be offered with full service and maintenance backup and charging infrastructure on site. “This allows us to lease all of our vehicles fully maintained and warrantied for the duration of the lease,” he said. “This will give our customers a fixed cost over the term without any variables.” Roev CEO and co-founder Noah Wasmer said demand for commercial EVs far outweighs current supply and Australian fleets are looking for a range of solutions to electrify their vehicles. “There is huge demand for light commercial EV’s in Australia and electric conversions provide an important option to accelerate our energy transition, particularly in the fleet market where businesses are racing to decarbonise,” he said. Mr Gillespie said each Roev electric HiLux will displace around 10 tonnes of CO2 each year, while each Zero ute would displace around 12 tonnes of CO2 every year, based on 40,000km of driving. CarBon shared the launch with Roev and Zero, along with smart charging infrastructure specialist UON which uses redeployable photovoltaic panels in its remote charging units. “UON has spent countless hours developing software and engineering for the smart cell to create off grid power solutions manufactured for our harsh environments,” Mr Gillespie said. UON is a Western Australian integrated energy company, backed by investment partners Macquarie Bank. It provides turnkey solutions to the WA resources sector and other industries. Mr Gillespie said both utes were ready for business. “Roev’s product was a standout for me and it has been great to experience the 4×4 in action,” he said. The Zero Automotive LC 79 is made in Adelaide.