Land Rover’s Electric Defender prototype has begun trials at the Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall. It will be performing general duties, as well as towing a four-carriage, 12-tonne road train in order to ascertain its usefulness as a working vehicle.
The innovative 4×4 is a rolling laboratory to develop new ideas and investigate electrification in a real-world environment. A fleet of six vehicles will be placed with organisations where their performance can be assessed. The Defender 110 Pick Up badged ‘All-Terrain Electric Research Vehicle’ effortlessly pulls up up to 60 passengers on a 6% incline to and from the iconic hexagonal-panelled domes. The vehicle has been designed to perform its duties throughout each day before being recharged over night for the approximate cost of £2.00.
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, overall, up to 80 per cent of the car’s kinetic energy can be recovered. During each downhill trip at the Eden Project up to 30kW will be fed back into the batteries. Land Rover’s acclaimed Terrain Response system has been adapted for electric drive, offering a 50-mile range with a reserve of a further 12.5 miles.
The result is a zero tailpipe emissions vehicle like no other; eight 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 fours is also possible.