The Land Rover Defender is a time-tested off-road machine, built for tromping through the roughest terrain available. Now, though, Land Rover is tentatively bringing the old-school SUV into the 21st century with a prototype electric powertrain.
At the Geneva Motor Show, Land Rover will introduce a fleet of seven electric Defenders that will be used for research and development purposes. There are no firm plans to put the car into production at this time — an all-new Defender is due in about two years — but the lessons learned from these cars could trickle down to future production Land Rover models.
Instead of the usual diesel engine, these Defenders use an electric motor that produces 94 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. Power comes from a 27-kWh lithium-ion battery. The Defender’s usual four-wheel-drive system is in place but its transmission has been removed, as the electric motor’s low torque requires only a single drive gear.
While it has a driving range of only 50 miles, Land Rover says that in typical low-speed, off-road driving, the Defender’s battery would be enough for about eight hours’ of use. It can be fully recharged by a fast charger in four hours or by a standard charger in ten hours.
Switching to electric propulsion adds about 904 pounds to the weight of a Defender.Land Rover has put the electric fleet through the sorts of tests not normally used on zero-emissions cars: towing a 26,455-pound trailer up a hill, and fording 31.5 inches of standing water. (Clearly the electronics are well-insulated from moisture.)
“This project is acting as a rolling laboratory for Land Rover to assess electric vehicles, even in the most arduous all-terrain conditions,” Jaguar Land Rover research head Antony Harper said in a statement. “It gives us a chance to evolve and test some of the technologies that may one day be introduced into future Land Rover models.”
Source: Land Rover