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Geneva show: Landie Defender not your usual EV

Down and dirty: Land Rover reckons a range of 80km is enough for its rugged Defender EV to do around eight hours of hardcore off-roading.

Seven mud-slinging electric Land Rover Defenders to shine in Geneva


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1 Mar 2013

LAND Rover has replaced the rough and tumble diesel engine in seven of its utilitarian Defender wagons with an electric motor and battery pack as part of a research and development program into EV technology.

While the company has no firm plans to mass-produce zero emissions versions of its current iconic off-roader, it has made seven ‘research’ vehicles to display at next week’s Geneva motor show.

Not your typical electric vehicle, the zero emission Defenders use a 70kW/330Nm electric motor twinned with a 300-volt, lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 27kWh, giving a range of more than 80 kilometres.

According to Land Rover, in low speed off-road use this range equates to as much as eight hours of drive time before a recharge is needed.

The battery can be fully charged by a 7kW fast charger in four hours, or a portable 3kW charger in 10 hours.

Since mud-plugging and rock-hopping is a short-distance activity, it could be argued that electricity becomes a more viable solution here than longer distance road cruising.

While the diesel donk is gone, the Defender’s famed four-wheel-drive abilities are said to remain in full, including the carry over diff lock.

Since the electric motor delivers maximum torque from the moment it starts, there is no need for gear shifting.

The motor is paried with a single-speed transmission channeling power to a modified version of Land Rover's Terrain Response System.

Land Rover says the vehicles' capability was tested in “extreme and environmentally sensitive conditions”, where they demonstrated abilities “not shared by conventional road-going EVs”.

Trials included pulling a 12-tonne 'road train' up a 13 percent gradient and wading to a depth of 800mm.

The front-mounted battery weighs 410kg and is mounted in place of the diesel engine. Kerb weight is 100kg more than a base Defender 110 and ranges from 2055kg to 2162kg depending whether the body style is a ute, hard top or station wagon.

All the major components in the electric powertrain - including the battery, inverter and motor - are air-cooled rather than liquid cooled, which the company says saves a considerable amount of weight and complexity while aiding robustness.

The regenerative brakes generate as much as 30kW of electricity when Hill Descent Control is engaged.

As reported, the EV Defenders will be joined on the Land Rover stand in Geneva by the new nine-speed automatic Range Rover Evoque - a world-first development in a production car that will hit Australia in early 2014.

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