Land Rover Proves Feasiblity of OffRoad Electric Vehicles PluginCars com

20 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Land Rover Proves Feasiblity of OffRoad Electric Vehicles PluginCars com отключены
Land Rover Electric Cars

Land Rover Proves Feasiblity of Off-Road Electric Vehicles

Land Rover’s All-Electric prototype proves itself capable as an off-road vehicle.

Hardened SUV fans claim that electric cars just can’t tackle life outside city limits. They are, I’ve been informed in a variety of colorful ways, just not man enough for the job. Now I have proof to the contrary.

When I heard that British automaker Land Rover had built five prototype electric off-road Land Rover Defenders, I had to drive one. On April 30, Land Rover celebrated 65 years of designing, building and selling vehicles designed to go where other cars could not. The British answer to the original Willys MB Jeep, Land Rover has become synonymous worldwide with adventure, exploration and hard work.

The official Land Rover birthday celebrations provided the opportunity to see if off-road adventures can be powered by elecricity.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Making my way down the line of various heritage and prestige vehicles available to drive around Packington Hall estatewhere the original Land Rovers were testedthe electric Land Rover wasn’t exactly easy to spot.

From the front and sides, the electric prototype looked like any other 110-inch Defender. Were it not for the sign on the hood proclaiming its fuel, only the absence of tailpipe would give the game away.


Normally powered in the U.K. by a series of diesel engines, the Land Rover Defender isn’t sold in the U.S. due to tough federal safety and emissions standards. The Defender offers a go-anywhere off-road capability without the opulent interior, low profile tires, and multitude of leather common to its upmarket Range Rover siblings. Built to last, its rugged all-wheel drive system, chunky tires and high ground clearance make it a favorite with farmers and adventurers alike, while its boxy frame rejects cutting-edge aerodynamics and other automotive design trends.

Unimaginable Torque

Thanks to a 70-kilowatt motor under the floor where the Defender’s 6-speed manual transmission would normally be, the all-electric prototype produces a respectable 250 foot-pounds of torque. Available from standstill, this torque makes it a real joy to drive on tough off-road terrain. And while the original gearbox is no more, the electric defender keeps the secondary switchable high-low ratio gearbox that gives all Land Rovers their legendary climbing and towing capabilities.

Land Rover makes no bones about the fact that this prototype isn’t meant for highway driving, although it will whine itself up to a rather noisy top speed of 70 miles per hour. As with any Defender however, this prototype is happiest off-road rather than on, something its 20-second 0-60 mph time highlights.

Similarly, Land Rover doesn’t commit on a miles-per-charge figure. Instead it says, there’s enough power in the 27-kWh battery pack to keep the vehicle happy for a hard days’ work off the beaten track.

A 27 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack sits under the hood.

Heavier, But Still poised

Thanks to some careful engineering, the all-electric prototype drives as wellif not betterthan its diesel-powered siblings. With plenty of regenerative braking available on accelerator lift-off, it’s possible to drive the Land Rover Defender Electric without even touching the brake pedal.

Land Rover Electric Cars

Moreover, with electronic hill descent-control borrowed from other Land Rover vehicles, the electric prototype is happy to use its powerful motor to slow itself down on impossibly steep grades by simply dialing in more regenerative braking as needed. Steering is taken care of by an electrically-powered hydraulic pump, making the Defender Electric feel and behave like a Land Rover should.

Those familiar with how the Land Rover Defender is built might expect the 27 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack powering the electric prototype to be located between the legs of its substantial body-on chassis. In order to keep ground clearance as high as possible however, Land Rover engineers placed the entire pack under the hood, completely filling the engine bay.

As a prototype, the plug-in Defender has no official external socket for charging. Instead, either an off-board Level 2 charger or a three-phase rapid charger plugs into a socket under the hood, recharging the car in 8 hours or three hours respectively.

And because the battery and motor are sealed, Land Rover says the Defender Electric can wade through up to 31.5 inches of water. The standard diesel version can only cope with 19 inches.

Don’t Get Too Excited

It will never make it to production, but this prototype could illustrate a future path for Land Rover.

The Land Rover Defender Electric Prototype is proof that Land Rover knows how to make an off-road EV, but with the Defender due to exit service in 2016 after 33 years of production, don’t expect to see one at a local dealership anytime soon.

Yet, there is hope. Land Rover is acutely aware that it needs to develop a more ecologically-responsible fleet moving forward, and the plug-in drivetrain offers it a path forward. How, when, or what we’ll see as a consequence remains a mystery.

Land Rover provided accommodation to enable us to bring you this drive report.

Land Rover Electric Cars
Land Rover Electric Cars
Land Rover Electric Cars

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