The current Land Rover Defender might be on its way out, but that apparently doesn’t mean that it can’t play an important role in the research and development of new engine technologies.
Land Rover has created an electric version of its ever-popular Defender. Unfortunately, there is no plan to turn it into a production model, which is hardly surprising, since we know that the current-generation model is finally on its way out. But what the electric Landy is, is a look at how an all-electric version of an off-roader might perform.
Understandably, hardcore off-roaders might be a tad skeptical, but there are a lot of reasons to actually like an electric 4×4. How so? Well, with an electric motor powering the Landy, there is only one gear. Once you put the vehicle into gear – you’re off. There is no need to swop cogs the whole time.
Moreover, and perhaps most importantly in an off-road environment, the electric motor provides maximum torque instantly. Unlike a conventional powerplant, the maximum amount of torque is available the moment you touch the accelerator, and it never diminishes.
Another rather nifty benefit of the electric motor is that it provides the Defender with an unbelievably quiet and refined ride. We all know that Defenders tend to be a tad loud, agricultural and unrefined. With an electric motor powering it, though, it takes on quite a different character.
Other advantages include the fact that you don’t need to worry about air intake when wading into deep water, since an electric motor obviously doesn’t need to breath, as well as the fact that this is a far more environmentally-friendly 4×4 than a traditional diesel-chugging SUV.
So, what’s the catch? Well, there is the obvious issue of range. At the moment, the electric Landy can travel a mere 50 miles before needing a charge. For a vehicle that is used largely as an overlander, this is a rather big issue.
The electric Defender is very clever, and it would undoubtedly prove useful in some applications already. The advantage of using a near-silent vehicle for game viewing is obvious, and a 50 mile range would be more than adequate. But for now, it is tough to imagine a scenario where it would be possible to travel overland through Africa in a vehicle that needs charging. Would it ever be possible? Perhaps there will come a time when solar charging will be so efficient that you will be able to charge your Defender simply by travelling under the Kaokoland’s hot sun. Wouldn’t that be something?
* You can watch a video below of the electric Landy in action