Jaguar Land Rover has announced that it is developing a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) based on the new Defender, with testing scheduled to begin sometime this year. The move is part of the automaker’s ambition to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by 2036.

This is also part of the company’s Reimagine strategy, which will see it introduce a whole new line of electrified vehicles, as well as achieve net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039.

Fuel cell vehicles rely on hydrogen to generate electricity and offers a much quicker “refueling” alternative compared to battery electric vehicles. There’s also minimal loss of range in low temperatures, making it ideal for larger, longer-range vehicles, or those operated in hot or cold environments.

JLR’s advanced engineering project, termed Project Zeus, is partly funded by a government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre. It will allow engineers to understand how a hydrogen powertrain can be optimised to deliver the performance and capability expected by its customers, especially with regards to range, refuelling, towing and of course, off-road ability.

The automaker has teamed up with world class R&D partners including Delta Motorsport, AVL, Marelli Automotive Systems and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) to research, develop and create the prototype FCEV.

Company hydrogen FCEV head, Ralph Clague said: “We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world class line-up of vehicles.”

“The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicles.”

GALLERY: 2021 Land Rover Defender 90

GALLERY: 2021 Land Rover Defender P400e PHEV