Land Rover's electric Defender trial

STEPHEN OTTLEY
Last updated 11:38 01/03/2013
Fairfax Australia

Land Rover gives its ancient off-roader a modern makeover

New Land Rover Defender's electric experiment.
New Land Rover Defender's electric experiment.

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The 60-year-old Land Rover Defender has had a 21st century heart transplant. The British off-roader brand has announced it has built a fleet of all-electric Defenders.

Seven examples of the go-anywhere off-roader have had their diesel engines removed and replaced with a 70kW/330Nm electric motor. The usual four-wheel-drive system, including the differential lock, are retained.

Land Rover claims the off-road capabilities of the Defender haven't been reduced by the powertrain change, including an 800mm wading depth. The company also claims that in testing the EV Defender has towed a 12-tonne road-train up a 13 per cent gradient.

The lithium-ion battery pack gives the Defender a range of just 80km between recharges, but Land Rover says the car can go up to eight hours between charging if doing low speed off-road driving.

Land Rover has ruled out putting the EV Defender into production, but says the seven cars are part of the company's long-term plans for hybrid and electrification.

"This project is acting as a rolling laboratory for Land Rover to assess electric vehicles, even in the most arduous all-terrain conditions,'' said Antony Harper, Jaguar Land Rover's head of research.

''It gives us a chance to evolve and test some of the technologies that may one day be introduced into future Land Rover models.''

The new Range Rover will be the first Land Rover hybrid, when the diesel-electric variant of the Vogue goes on sale later this year.

As for the Defender, Land Rover is in the process of trying to reinvent the icon for the 21st century. The company has confirmed that the new Defender will be all-new from the ground up with a focus on making it better to drive on sealed roads.

Land Rover revealed the DC100 Concept at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show to gauge public reaction to the radical new design.

Unfortunately for Land Rover the DC100 design proved polarising and has sent the Land Rover designers and engineers back to the drawing board to start fresh on the new Defender.

-Fairfax News Australia

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