The first electric ute to be commercially available in Australia has arrived and is on a tour showing the nation what it can do.
- The Chinese-manufactured dual-cab utility has a range of 330km
- The first version of the ute is two-wheel drive
- Its limitations may make it unsuitable for Australian farms
Chinese manufacturer LDV’s eT60 is being showcased by climate campaigning organisation Solar Citizens as part of a push for tighter regulation on vehicle emissions.
There are companies in Australia that convert diesel utes or trucks to electric but until now there has not been a purpose-built electric ute available domestically.
The dual-cab, two-wheel drive ute has a 330-kilometre range and a one-tonne towing capacity.
It will sell for $92,990 plus on-road costs, which is about double the price of the top diesel equivalent.
Ben White, a research engineer from the Kondinin Group, which tests farm technology and machinery, said it was “great” to see the EV arrive, but suspects its specs will limit sales in the agricultural sector.
“I think that most cockies would be looking for a four-wheel drive,” he said.
“We want to be able to drive through the paddocks, we want to be able to check stock, we want to be able to carry loads to and from town, so it comes back to that equivalence and being able to do that job we need it to do.”
‘Feels like a normal ute’
Solar Citizens regional clean transport organiser Ben Lever said having an electric ute on Australian roads was a big step forward.
“It wasn’t all that long ago that people were saying that electric utes didn’t exist anywhere in the world,” he said.
“Well, here it is right now.
“It’s no unicorn — it’s right here.”
Mr Lever said the ute, which would otherwise be almost completely silent, emits a “little bit of a musical note” for safety reasons.
It also has power points so that it can be used to run tools.
Tatura dairy producer and Farmers for Climate Action member Emily Crawford said she was excited to see the technology.
“We could actually have the options of reducing carbon emissions and saving money on diesel,” she said.
“It’s great — it feels like a normal ute to me.”
Solar Citizens is using the ute tour to push the federal government to change vehicle emissions standards laws, which Mr Lever said could lead to more choice in the EV market.
“A lot of our peer nations have fuel emissions standards that require the car companies to bring in a range of vehicles, some of which are much cleaner and efficient, and that includes a good mix of electric vehicles as well,” he said.
“Because Australia doesn’t have these standards, that means we are at the bottom of the queue.”
Not quite there yet
Other utes that are available overseas, such as the Ford F150 Lightning, are what have farmers like Ms Crawford excited to make the change.
“We need something that is equivalent to a Toyota LandCruiser or a Ford F150 — something that we [can use] to tow and that’s versatile,” she said.
Mr White said when electric utes were up to the task the agriculture sector would make the change.
“We do big kilometres in Australia, probably more than anyone would do in Europe or the US, and range anxiety is a real thing,” he said.
“There is a bit of anxiety and planning that builds into that, and that’s OK, but once the range grows to 700 or 800km, that will dissipate.”
The ute is the latest addition to the range of electric farm equipment that is becoming available to farmers.
There are already electric motorbikes and side-by-sides working on Australian farms, and more are on the way.
Mr White was waiting for electric tractors from major manufacturers to arrive in the country.
“There are a few EV tractors being brought to market in the next few years,” he said.
“Fendt has got one, John Deere is bringing one out next year, and people should keep an eye out for that.
“They are all pretty small — we are talking 100 horsepower equivalent size, which is good for horticulturists and smaller area operators.”