At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, Land Rover is set to introduce seven electric Defender 110 research vehicles. All seven were made to be zero-emissions vehicles, while not losing the rugged SUV's excellent off-road capability.

While the standard Defenders were powered by a diesel engine and six-speed, in this case, power comes entirely from a 94-hp, 243-lb-ft electric motor. It works in conjunction with a 300-volt, lithium-ion battery, which has a capacity of 27 kWh. That translates into a range of more than 50 miles, or, when using the vehicles off-road at low speed, up to 8 hours of rock-crawling before you would have to recharge. When using a fast charger, the battery can be fully charged in four hours, or 10 with a portable charger.

These 110s still use the standard 4WD system, with the diff lock. All the motor's torque is available when it starts up, so the transmission is a single-speed 2.7:1 reduction gearbox. These research vehicles use a modified version of Land Rover's Terrain Response System as well.

This isn't the first time Land Rover has researched electric vehicles. The manufacturer had done trials with another Defender-based electric SUV, called Leopard 1. It pulled a 12-ton "road train" up a 13-percent grade and waded through 31.5-inch-deep water.

Each vehicle weighs only 220 pounds more than a standard Defender.

The battery, which weighs 904 pounds, was put the in engine bay, where the diesel engine used to be. Overall weight ranges from 4530 to 4773 pounds, based on body style (hardtop, station wagon, or pickup). Helping to save weight is the use of air-cooling instead of water-cooling for all the major components in the electric powertrain, such as the battery, inverter, and motor. It makes the system less complex and tougher. As with other electric vehicles, the Defenders use regenerative braking; when using hill descent control, the motor can generate 30kW of electricity, and up to 80 percent of the vehicle's kinetic energy can be recovered and stored.

According to Antony Harper, Jaguar Land Rover head of research, "This project is acting as a rolling laboratory for Land Rover to assess electric vehicles, even in the most arduous all-terrain conditions. It gives us a chance to evolve and test some of the technologies that may be introduced into future Land Rover models."

These are research vehicles, and from what we can tell, are not going into production. However, they will continue being tested in real-world trials later this year.

Source: Land Rover