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Kuuwa Rentals to showcase ‘pedigree’ electric light utility vehicles to WA mining sector

Western Australia-based majority Indigenous owned business, Kuuwa Rentals, is out to start sating the Australian mining industry’s demand for electric light utility vehicles by offering the Ford F150 Lightning electric truck to companies in the state.

Australia has one of the highest populations of light utility vehicles across the globe, with several companies having established an electric light utility vehicle offering in the past decade. Many of these companies – and their potential customers – are based in Western Australia and acknowledge the ‘entry-level’ nature of these vehicles compared with other vehicles in the operational fleet and the need for mining companies to urgently decarbonise their operations.

Kuuwa Rentals is aware of this too, having spent the last two years with Worley developing its Charge Forward program to assess the best entry into this market.

As part of this work, Kuuwa Rentals previously released a feasibility study with Worley that outlined a total of 100,000 light vehicles currently on sites across Australia, each with an average life span of 4.5 years. These numbers, it said, meant the industry would be looking to change over 20,000 diesel-powered light vehicles a year to electric to meet their environmental targets.

Further to the desktop findings, the company says it carried out rigorous testing of vehicles and equipment as part of this program, leading to the selection of the F150. This has seen Kuuwa Rentals become the only company in Western Australia able to offer this fully mine-specific OEM vehicle to the mining industry with right hand conversion.

Wes Chapman, Managing Director of Kuuwa Rentals, explained the company currently exclusively provides Toyotas to its clients as they are the best on the market for mine work. “Unfortunately, Toyota haven’t announced when they will release a non-diesel Hilux, but the market has 2030 decarbonisation targets to meet and are looking for solutions to reduce emissions on site as soon as they can,” he said.

Kuuwa Rentals tested a number of the modified Toyota Hiluxs but the alternatives didn’t stand up to the task of working on mine sites, according to Chapman.

“The F150 offered that solution of not being modified (other than being remanufactured to right hand drive) while also being able to handle the mining environment,” he said.

Chapman says the F150 is suitable for any commercial or fleet application, with the conventionally powered equivalent having 75 years of “pedigree” as work trucks. “There are around 40,000 produced in the USA and many examples of both surface and underground use,” he added. The PRO electric model – available in the US – has a 240 mile (384 km) EPA estimated on the road range with the standard battery and four wheel drive, according to Ford’s website.

Kuuwa Rentals is looking to reduce the financial and operational risk associated with these electric trucks by buying the vehicles and offering them under a leasing contract for the duration of the project. “There is sufficient supply of the Ligtnings available to meet any market demand,” Chapman said, adding that a “bespoke build” is offered depending on the project and mine site requirements.

The feasibility study carried out by Kuuwa Rentals and Worley showcased significant cost savings and carbon reductions using these vehicles, based on 150-km average daily usage, against the diesel baseline. It also highlighted reduced charge times, with the ability to charge a fleet of 10 vehicles in just five hours.