Think all electric cars look friendly, cute and cuddly? Introducing the world’s most unlikely EV, the Land Rover Defender Electric Concept. Seven units of the battery-powered Defenders will be heading to Geneva, and as you can see from the pics, they retain the Defender’s famous go-anywhere ability.
The Landie’s diesel engine and gearbox have been replaced by a 70kW (94 bhp), 330 Nm electric motor twinned with a 300-volt, lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 27 kWh, giving a range of more than 80 km. In typical, low speed off-road use it can last for up to eight hours before recharging. The battery can be fully charged by a 7kW fast charger in four hours, or a portable 3kW charger in 10.
The battery weighs 410 kg and is mounted where the engine normally sits. Kerb weight is 100 kg more than a basic Defender 110 and ranges from 2,055 kg to 2,162 kg depending on body style. All the major EV components – including the battery, inverter and motor – are air-cooled rather than liquid cooled, saving a considerable amount of weight and complexity and adding robustness.
Regenerative braking has been optimised to such an extent that using Hill Descent Control, the motor can generate 30 kW of electricity. Because the battery tech can be charged very quickly at a rate of up to twice its capacity of 54 kW without reducing battery life, almost all of the regenerated energy can be recovered and stored, up to 80% of kinetic energy, Land Rover says.
The EVs retain the Defender’s 4WD system and differential lock. Because the electric motor delivers maximum torque from the moment it starts, there’s no need for gear shifting and the transmission comprises a single speed, 2.7:1 reduction gearbox. A modified version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response System has also been incorporated.
Developed following successful trials of the Defender-based EV, Leopard 1, these cars have been tested in extreme and environmentally sensitive conditions, demonstrating capabilities not shared by conventional road-going EVs. Trials included pulling a 12-tonne ‘road train’ up a 13% gradient and wading to a depth of 800 mm.
“This project is acting as a rolling laboratory for Land Rover to assess electric vehicles, even in the most arduous all-terrain conditions. It gives us a chance to evolve and test some of the technologies that may one day be introduced into future Land Rover models,” said Antony Harper, JLR’s head of research.
Alas, there are no plans for series production, although the seven EVs will go into service in specialist applications later in the year. Electric cars, who’s your daddy?