Voltra Electric Vehicle

ZEV Enters the International Market

Zero Emission Vehicles moves into the international market in 2018 with the deployment of its first electric vehicle into Australia. The first of the new model of the Voltra fully battery-electric 4WD utility vehicle developed for Autoline is being prepared for use in the Australian mining industry.

“This is a significant milestone for us,” says ZEV Chairman George Zander. “Our goal has always been the global market and this vehicle represents our first steps in the international arena.”

The Voltra was launched at the end of 2017 at EV World in Auckland, but this latest vehicle includes numerous refinements from customer feedback and to suit the harsh operating conditions it is intended for.

Kitsets have been designed and manufactured in New Zealand and have been shipped to Australia where ZEV staff are assembling and fitting them at their Adelaide facilities. The first vehicle is in the final stages of manufacture before being commissioned in the Australian mining industry.

“The mining industry is a very stringent one in terms of process and regulations,” says Zander. “Electric drive provides huge health and safety benefits for the mines and its workers, as well as big reductions in the amount of maintenance a vehicle requires when it does not have a combustion engine.”

The first vehicle is scheduled to go into live mining operation in April.

ZEV to Build the Largest Electric Road Vehicle in New Zealand

EECA LogoTwenty projects have been announced in the latest round of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). Among them is a $500,000 grant to freight optimisation company CODA. As reported by the NZ Herald, this is to be used in partnership with Bay Dairy and Zero Emission Vehicles to design and build an electric freight truck to shuttle dairy products from the Fonterra Te Rapa dairy factory to the Fonterra Crawford Street freight hub in Hamilton.

The vehicle is unique in that it is a high-productivity truck and trailer with both units powered. Three axles on each unit are driven electronically which will transmit the power to the pavement in a more evenly-distributed manner, creating less roadwave. The result is a vehicle with greater control and stability that is gentler on roads despite being, at 58 tonnes, the largest electric vehicle ever to appear on New Zealand roads.

The heavier vehicles are core business for ZEV, with larger trucks creating a more compelling business case for cost savings over diesel vehicles and with greater environmental and health benefits. EECA has identified that this vehicle will save 71 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year alone.

The ZEV truck and trailer is expected to be in operation in early 2019.

Voltra Photo Shoot in Waihi

We needed some images of the Voltra fully-electric landcruiser and, given it is designed for mining operation, it seemed the logical option was to take it into a working mine to photograph.

Waihi Gold were generous enough to let us take the vehicle into their Correnso underground mine at Waihi in the beautiful Coromandel region of New Zealand.


And so, on a changeable Spring day, we took one of the Voltra landcruisers to the mine and a group of us were taken through the safety induction processes – including a very entertaining safety video. The health and safety procedures at the mine were rigorous and exhaustive, including a full risk assessment conducted on every aspect of the vehicle itself. All of our staff were kitted out in high-vis gear, breathing apparatus, helmets and lights before we descended into the mine itself.

The drive down plunged into complete darkness, with the 1 in 7 slope exactly what the Voltra was designed for. The mine was very damp, with water dripping from the ceiling and a layer of grey mud on the ground everywhere.

We found a spot some 300m below the surface where an intersection of tunnels gave us a tiny bit more room to shoot in and we unpacked lights.

Due to the mud and uneven surface, light stands were not able to be used so we had to employ everyone as ‘voice-activated light stands’, which involved a lot of holding lights and pointing them while I lay in the mud to get the shots from the appropriate angle. I also found it is really difficult to look through the viewfinder on a camera when you’re wearing a mining helmet. My main concern was making sure lenses and lights stayed out of the mud!

The shots came out great, though – the Voltra certainly stood out from all of the other mining gear by being so clean and white, not to mention its near-silent operation. The ability to keep all the lights on at all times was also handy in the depths of the tunnels.

The next run of Voltra vehicles are destined for mines in Australia which will have minor modifications to this model in order to suit Australian requirements, but no doubt they will look equally impressive. Until the mud gets them, of course.

Introducing the ZEV 22000

Launched at the EVWorld NZ, a concept electric vehicle by New Zealand specialist heavy electric vehicle manufacturer Zero Emission Vehicles brings a paradigm shift to transport in underground mining.

The ZEV 22000 is an electric 110 tonne haul truck.

It is emission free. In a hazardous underground environment, removing inflammable fuels and exhaust gases, and the particulates and contaminants they create, is costly and involved. By using electric vehicles, it removes the source of the problem.

With multi-charging options the vehicle can be charged underground, so there is no need to return to the surface for refuelling.

The ZEV 22000 is capable of a tramming speed of 20kph on a 1:7 gradient fully loaded, around twice the speed of its diesel competitor, so, as well as a quicker turnaround, it contributes to a healthier working environment.

The permanent magnet electric motors and power electronics are maintenance free with an operating life of more than 50,000 hours. The ZEV 22000 battery pack, when operated to the end of its usable capacity, should realise between 15,000 and 30,000 machine hours of service before needing replacement.

The hydraulic supply on the ZEV 22000 is provided by an independent electric motor, therefore the hydraulics operate completely independently of the vehicle travel.

With upgrades to machine vision systems and autonomous control algorithms fitted, the ZEV 22000 provides improved levels of driver assistance and ultimately independent autonomous control with traffic blending, this will also reduce damage and wear from collisions with mine walls and contact with other vehicles.



New From ZEV: The Autoline VOLTRA

Voltra Landcruiser

Representing the beginning of a paradigm shift in Underground Mining Vehicles, is the innovative Voltra, a battery-electric underground mine utility vehicle designed and built for Autoline Australia by New Zealand specialist heavy electric vehicle manufacturer, Zero Emission Vehicles.

Voltra is a battery electric landcruiser. The first of its kind in Australasia, it is aimed at the underground mining sector where producing emissions in a confined space is hazardous.

While the primary role of the Voltra is for surface to mine logistics, the vehicle is a prelude to what is possible with zero emission vehicles underground.

Maintenance of the vehicle is considerably less than its diesel counterpart. Where hundreds of parts need regular service and replacement with diesel, the permanent magnet motors and power electronics in ZEV vehicles are essentially maintenance free.

To maximise energy efficiency, operator comfort and safety, ZEV has developed a unique multi-channel air conditioning system combined with on-demand power steering.

Much of what is seen on the Voltra is also found on other ZEV vehicles, including the ZEV 14000 battery electric rubbish compacting truck, and the ZEV 22000, a concept 110-tonne electric haul truck designed specifically for underground mining operations.



The Kodak Moment

OPEC is reported to have raised its 2040 electric vehicle fleet prediction from 46 million vehicles a year ago, to 266 million. It now also says the spread of EVs could dampen sales targets in some parts of Asia as soon as 2018. 
According to one study, the reduced demand for fossil fuels with the uptake of EVs by 2040 will reduce demand for 8 million barrels of oil, more than the current combined production of Iraq and Iran. 
Is this the Kodak moment for car makers when they must decide their direction? The choice is to switch entirely to EV (as Volvo has done) or to continue to produce internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles only, banking on a premise that there will almost certainly always be a demand – albeit majorly reduced – for fossil fuel vehicles.
The speed of uptake of EVs is surprising everyone – oil producers, vehicle manufacturers and Governments. And while the majority of new cars sold are ICE vehicles, the increasingly rapid rise in the sale of EVs will see the crossover – that point where EV sales equal and then surpass the sale of ICE vehicles – come around a lot sooner than predictions from as recently as a year ago.
Before the crossover comes however, there is another important milestone for ICE manufacturers, the peak. That point where sales demand starts to drop off and the steady decline in units sold sets in. That’s when you’ll see the sweet deals on conventional cars as auto companies compete to retain business.
From now until 2040 may seem like a long way off, but to a century-old Automotive industry, it is just another stage in the development of each brand’s relevance to its market.  

Did a Domino Just Fall?

With major changes starting to happen worldwide for the electric vehicle industry, has the first domino just fallen?

Emmanuelle Macron’s Government has announced that France will end all sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. This is part of an initiative to meet its targets under the Paris accord and has also been touted as a public health issue by officials.

The announcement came just one day after Volvo made the big announcement that it will produce only electric or hybrid vehicles from as soon as 2019.

When car manufacturers become technology manufacturers and the French snub fossil fuels, it has been a big week for the global uptake of electric vehicles. If you were to liken it to the domino effect, you could say perhaps the lead tile has toppled…

EV Registrations Double in New Zealand

In the first twelve months since the Government released its Electric Vehicle Strategy, EV registrations in New Zealand are increasing quickly. Light EVs (cars) are a growing proportion of registrations, dominated by used imports, with individuals owning more light EVs than companies. The “others” group (typically councils, regional and local government) is growing quarter by quarter.

According to the Ministry of Transport website, EV vehicle registrations doubled following the Government’s EV Strategy announcement in May 2016, from 87 in that month to 195 in June. There have been some ups and downs on monthly registration numbers, but on average, EV registrations have stayed at just under 200 per month for the past year. Continuing into the 2017 calendar year however, and registrations have crossed over the 200 mark to average 207 per month.

As to where the EVs are on a regional basis, Auckland is the clear “home of the EV in NZ”. Next best – and a long way behind – is Canterbury, Wellington and then Otago. Look at that in an “EV per 1,000 population” basis, and while Auckland still tops, not so far behind is Otago, ahead of Wellington, Canterbury, Northland and Nelson/Marlborough.

Although only a small percentage of the overall EVs in New Zealand, heavy electric vehicles are showing their presence as the integration into the national fleet continues on target.

Tesla Comes to New Zealand

The electric vehicle industry in New Zealand got a major boost with the arrival of US company Tesla to these shores.

The company has set up its first store on Karangahape Road in Auckland and a supercharger location at The Base Shopping Centre in Hamilton. Further superchargers, which promise fast charge for vehicles, are planned for Taupo and Sanson later in the year. The superchargers are touted as being able to charge the high-end Tesla Model S, which as a range of 600km, from flat to full in 30 minutes.

The Model S costs around $300,000 in New Zealand, with even the cheapest models priced at $117,000. The expectation, however, is that in future more widely affordable models will be released, most notable the Model 3.

The presence of the high-profile company is a significant step for the public profile of electric vehicles in New Zealand, which are rapidly gaining traction in the consumer market.

The Emissions-Free State

California wants to remove as many diesel-powered vehicles from its roadways as possible, and it isn’t just cars, “medium to heavy-duty” vehicles are being targetted, with spending of up to US$1 billion available to “accelerate widespread transportation electrification”.

California’s three largest Utilities have filed proposals for an allocation of the funds. The largest is to create the infrastructure required to electrify the entire freight handling system at the Port of Long Beach.

A large percentage of the goods Americans buy enter the country through ports in California, however the transportation corridor from port to warehouse has some of the worst air pollution in the world. The plan is to replace all heavy operating equipment with electric motors. From gantry cranes that unload ships to the trucks that deliver to the warehouses.

Other proposals include adding charging infrastructure for heavy-duty trucks and buses along major highways, the addition of 90,000 home charging units, the electrification of ground support vehicles at local airports and the installation of EV chargers at airport parking lots.