Earlier this year, Land Rover announced it would be electrifying a Defender. Although the hefty British 4x4 may not seem like the most logical candidate for an electric makeover, the first Electric Defender began its real world tests this past month at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England.
One of the many trials at Cornwall designed to put the first Electric Defender’s pulling power to the test saw it hauling a 12-tonne (13-ton) road train made up of four trailers stuffed with 60 Eden Project visitors. The vehicle showed its electric worth by marching its way up a test incline with a 6 percent grade. But the Defender 110, known as the “All Terrain Electric Research Vehicle,” still has enough power to hit 70 mph (112 km/h) while retaining its status as a serious off-roader.
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Towing capabilities aside, Land Rover is also heavily focused on the regenerative braking aspects of the electric 4x4. When engaging the manufacturer’s Hill Descent Control system to descend steep embankments, Land Rover claims up to eighty percent of the vehicle's kinetic energy can be recovered. Initial figures from the Eden Project claim up to 30 kW is being fed back to the batteries through this regenerative braking method. It currently takes 10 hours to fully charge the vehicle's lithium-ion batteries, but the company claims it will be possible to get this down to four hours using "fast-charge" technology.
With a reported range of 50 miles (80.5 km) and a further 12.5-mile (20 km) reserve, the Electric Defender won’t win any range contests anytime soon. However, this can be forgiven as the Defender’s nature and mandate is more about mucking about in the highlands at low speeds than it is about long distance expeditions.
Under slower, off-road conditions, Land Rover reports their test subject can easily go eight hours playing about in the peaty bog on a single charge. Powering the plug-in Defender is a 70 kW (90 bhp), high-torque electric motor that powers all the wheels through Land Rover’s patented permanent four-wheel drive system.
The test vehicle also received a second battery in order to extend testing hours, while enhancing the vehicle’s stability and weight distribution. As Gizmag reported back in February, it's unlikely Land Rover will produce an all-electric anything anytime soon, however, the British company has plans to release some hybrid Range Rover models soon.
Source: Land RoverView gallery - 12 images