Fully electric with twice the payload and a lifespan to outlive some mines, Drivetrain is now supplying Australia with a taste of what the future holds.
While traditional utility vehicles take on-highway models, electrify them and adapt them for the harsh conditions of underground mining, Kovatera has engineered the KT200e from the ground up.
Based on 13 years of development since the Kovatera UT99 diesel version was released, this electrified workhorse can be trusted to last for up to 10 years in mining conditions.
Such a bold promise can only be backed up by a comprehensive warranty, which is why Kovatera extended its chassis warranty out to five years – an unheard-of length considering most competing vehicles last around three years.
Kovatera general manager Will Gove explains how the vehicle manufacturer achieves such longevity in the KT200e.
“It’s in the design of the machine. One example would be our use of heavy-duty off-highway axels where the brakes are enclosed, whereas a traditional on-highway vehicle has them exposed,” Gove tells Australian Mining.
“Another example would be the chassis design. A traditional rolled chassis can allow water to get inside to rust the vehicle from the inside out. Our chassis is a fabricated steel chassis with a flat plate. So, the backbone of the machine is exceptionally strong.
“Thirdly, the standard thickness of automotive style vehicle body panels is about 0.9 millimetres. On our vehicle it’s about two millimetres, about twice the thickness.”
In a nutshell, it is components like these which enable the Kovatera to make a name for itself around the world.
Canada-based Kovatera has tested the KT200e in the North American country’s mines and has now found an opening into the Australian mining industry.
All Kovatera required to expand the vehicle’s global reach was a reliable Australian supplier such as Drivetrain with the right locations and people to support mining operations wherever they were needed.
Mark Griffith, general manager for sales and business development at Drivetrain, says Kovatera aligns well with where the Australian mining industry is moving.
As such, Drivetrain was more than happy to distribute the KT200e across the country’s major underground hard rock mines.
“Drivetrain is an established supplier to the mining industry, particularly to underground mining,” Griffith says.
“We provide maintenance solutions across most underground mines in Australia in some fashion. That allows us to assess their conditions and pick products from our international suppliers which meet their needs and drive better asset management for sustainability in their operations.”
While electric vehicles (EVs) are an emerging trend in the mining industry, Australian operators are known to take a tentative approach to technological developments, according to Griffith. But the KT200e is ready to work in Australian mines.
“They like to see it prove itself, and I think we’re at that point in our evolution in Australia where Australians don’t like to jump on a vehicle that’s just landed or hasn’t been fully commercialised and produced for a number of years,” Griffith says.
“The Kovatera EV has had nearly a decade of engineering design put into it, it’s had years of experience in Canadian mines and we’re confident it will prove itself here the way the diesel has.”
The KT200e comes in a standard 88-kilowatt-hour option, but for those concerned with forking out unnecessary funds, the 44-kilowatt-hour option caters to those with smaller mines and shorter-range requirements.
In either case, operators can be sure the charging capacity of the KT200e will be enough for whichever mine it’s thrown into.
“We also have two onboard chargers, so one can charge the vehicle on board and it doesn’t require any offboard infrastructure,” Gove says.
“You can bring the vehicle into the mine and leverage off the existing mining infrastructure, which is important for a lot of our customers.”
Naturally, some people may ask how much production is sacrificed for electrification in this future-proof utility vehicle.
Drivetrain business development manager of capital equipment sales, Joel Mathews, says the answer may surprise a few people.
“One additional item which makes the vehicle quite unique is the payload capacity, as traditional units in the market offer around half of what the KT200e does. It’s quite a workhorse for a small truck,” Mathews says.
Whether payload, range or lifespan are the deciding factor in a company’s next utility vehicle, Drivetrain is confident the Kovatera has their needs covered.
“We have seen an influx of opposition companies starting to enter this market, but the difference is these products are still in their research and development stages,” Mathews says.
“They haven’t put in the time or experience operating underground. Plus, Kovatera has the production capability. If a customer comes to us and says, ‘I love these machines, can I have 20 of them this year?’ We can say, ‘yes you can,’ and we can do it with confidence.”
This article appears in the September issue of Australian Mining.