Land Rover enthusiasts pining for a new Defender may be slightly closer having their wish granted, though this latest development may catch them by surprise. Land Rover has developed an electric Defender which debuted this week at the Geneva Auto Show.
Seven of the electric prototypes traveled to Geneva, and the buzz surrounding the new vehicles is at a fever pitch. Each electric Defender carries a 300-volt lithium ion battery that provides power to a 94-horsepower motor that provides 243-lb feet of torque. One charge of the battery is said to last the Defender only 50 miles, but then again these are not the type of vehicles traditionally used as daily commuters.
Early reports suggest that the electric Defender is capable of towing a 12 ton load up a 15 percent grade, while maintaining the trademark off road abilities that made the vehicle a global icon. Land Rover’s Advanced Engineering Team has developed a modified version of Land Rover’s four-wheel drive system and matched it with a single-speed transmission. The group has also developed a system that stores the kinetic energy that is typically lost as heat during periods of braking, a system that we have seen used in other electric vehicles.
The battery in the electric Defender weighs a whopping 900 pounds, but it replaces a heavy diesel engine and transmission, so the net weight gain does not overwhelm the new engine. The vehicle is charged via an onboard 7 kW charger which charges the battery in four hours. There is also a portable 3 kW charging option that can restore the battery in ten hours. Land Rover estimates that the electric Defender can enjoy 8 hours of use on a single charge.
Though the vehicle is far from production-ready, North American Land Rover enthusiasts must be excited about the prospect of an electric Defender, as our prohibitive emissions standards should not interfere if this model ever does make it to production. Good to see all of Land Rover’s R&D money being put to good use!
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