Toyota Australia has, in a way, gone ‘full circle’ with its announcement the first locally assembled EODev GEH2 hydrogen fuel cell stationary power generator would be sold to Thiess, the mining services company.

Assembled at the automaker’s former purpose built car manufacturing plant site in Altona, Victoria, where vehicle output ended in 2017, the 110kVA power generator was designed by France’s EODev (Energy Observer Developments) with “the “support” FROM Toyota Motor Europe and uses the same fuel cell system which powers Toyota’s rare Mirai FCEV.

Toyota Australia retails the gensets through Blue Diamond Machinery (BDM) and, like it once did cars, will also export for Toyota New Zealand to distribute.

Thiess will use the generator for mining operations in New South Wales and is considering ordering a second unit.

Toyota has invested A$3.27m at Altona to assemble up to 100 generators in three years and aims to produce 28 in 2024 for customers largely in mining, construction and events.

The generator has been made since 2021 in France and is currently sold in Europe, North America, Middle East, and, now, Australasia.

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In 1959, Thiess, a subsidiary of then-construction company Thiess Holdings, became the official Queensland distributor for Toyota commercial vehicles making Australia the first official export market for the Japanese brand.

Company chief (later Sir) Leslie Thiess had arranged privately to import a dozen of the rugged Toyotas for work on a contract won as part of the huge Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme.

Toyota said he was so impressed with the vehicle’s capability in the harshest terrain, that he applied to Japan to become an official distributor. The 60/40 Thiess Toyota joint venture handled commercials until 1980 (when the Japanese company bought out its shareholding) while passenger cars were imported and, in some cases, assembled by a separate company, also later taken over.