Unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the first Land Rover Defender powered by electricity, instead of a petrol or diesel engine, has started work at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England, in an inaugural real-world trial of its capabilities.
The Electric Defender is a pioneering research project into the electrification of an all-terrain vehicle. This project forms part of Land Rover’s overall sustainability objectives which have included the move to aluminium platforms in the latest all-new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport as well as the Range Rover hybrid products that will come in future.
The vehicle is a rolling laboratory to develop new ideas, and investigate electrification in a real-world environment. A fleet of 6 vehicles will be placed with organisations where their performance can be assessed.
The ‘All terrain Electric Research Vehicle’ can effortlessly tow the 4-carriage 12 tonne road train carrying up to 60 passengers on a 6% incline to and from the iconic hexagonal-panelled domes at the Eden Project. The vehicle has been designed to perform its duties throughout each day before being recharged over night for the approximate cost of £2.00 (nearly RM10).
While it has a powertrain of the future, the Electric Defender still has all the qualities and performance which have become associated with the Land Rover brand during the past 65 years – genuine all-terrain capability and permanent 4WD. Add to this zero emissions as it emits no exhaust fumes at all.
However, it has been engineered in-house by Land Rover to test out the latest sustainable technologies. The vehicle’s Hill Descent Control is linked to a regenerative braking function, and up to 80% of the car’s kinetic energy can be recovered. During each downhill trip at the Eden Project, up to 30 kW will be fed back into the batteries. Land Rover’s Terrain Response system has been adapted for electric drive, offering an 80-km range with a reserve of a further 20 kms. The vehicle is said to be able to reach a maximum speed of 112 km/h.
8 hours of low-speed off-road use is achievable, and it takes 10 hours for the advanced lithium-ion batteries to be fully charged. ‘Fast-charge’ technology reducing that to just four is also possible.
Jeremy Greenwood, Principal Engineer on the Electric Defender project, said the vehicle is ideal for the sensitive ecology of the Eden Project. In addition, the repetitive nature of the work will provide excellent data for future electric vehicles.
“The vehicle has been modified so it now includes a second battery,” he explained. “That will allow it to work a full day at the Eden Project, and it also improves weight distribution and stability. In addition, we’ve linked the land-train’s air brakes to the foot pedal of the vehicle, enhancing safety.”
The Eden Project has been operating since 2001 and consists of uniquely-designed ‘biomes’ which contain plants from all over the world. The biomes are futuristic greenhouses with controlled temperatures that replicate the environment the plants came from. To read more about the Eden Project, click here.