Cork entrepreneur Norman Crowley has signed a deal with a leading global mining company to retrofit some 8,500 diesel mining trucks into electric vehicles over the next three years, with much of this work to take place at sites in the Republic.
Speaking to Inside Business, a podcast from The Irish Times, Mr Crowley said his company, Cool Planet Group, would carry out some of the work at a new factory it has just completed at Powerscourt, Co Wicklow. He said the contract was valued at about €50 million.
The company is in talks with Enterprise Ireland to try an identify another site here, while some of the work will also be carried out in Portugal, he added.
“Literally in the last week we secured our first order for 8,500 trucks. It’s a very large mining group. There will be more orders on top of that. Some of them will be built in Powerscourt but Powerscourt is not the type of place that lends itself to 8,500 and maybe more trucks rolling around it so some of them will be built in a new factory in Ireland and some of them in Portugal.”
According to Mr Crowley more than 1 million mining trucks have to be converted between now and 2030.
He said it was also working with providing new electric vehicles for the mining industry.
“We got approached during Covid by one of the biggest mining companies in the world to convert a pickup truck to electric and what that has led to is a monster opportunity where we are now working with five or six of the largest mining companies in the world and we’ve developed a bunch of vehicles that are electric, don’t emit DPM [diesel particulate matter] but also they are much safer. They have collision avoidance systems so they can’t run people over.”
Cool Planet is also adapting classic cars into electric vehicles at the Powerscourt facility. However, Mr Crowley said this is a niche business with small volumes, involving vehicles with a minimum price of €500,000. “Thankfully, there are people who like to buy those,” he said.
Cool Planet’s core business is involved in working with some of the world’s biggest companies to decarbonise their carbon emissions.