Land Rover has created an electric Defender which is on display at the Geneva motor show. It aims to add zero-emission efficiency to the formidable off-road ability the Defender is famed for.

The Defender's regular diesel engine has been substituted for a 70kw (94bhp) electric motor with 243lb ft of torque. The motor is powered by a 300-volt lithium-ion battery that weighs 410kg.

Because all the components of the battery system are air-cooled rather than liquid-cooled, however, weight gain over the standard Defender is 100kg. This puts kerb weight between 2055kg and 2162kg depending on body style.

Land Rover claims a range of more than 50 miles. Used off-road, where speeds are much lower, the battery can last more than eight hours. A portable charger can replenish the battery in ten hours, whilst a fast charger unit cuts this time to four hours.

A single-speed transmission has been incorporated into the Defender's existing four-wheel drive and Terrain Response systems. Moreover, the combination of Hill Descent Control with regenerative braking means up to 30kw of electricity can be generated by the motor and stored in the battery. 

Land Rover claims around 80 per cent of the Defender's kinetic energy can be recovered in this way, depending on conditions.

Predictably, testing of the electric Defender has been rigorous. Not only can it wade through up to 800mm of water, a development car has also pulled a 12-tonne road train up a 13 per cent gradient.

Despite proving its toughness, Land Rover has no plans currently to produce an electric Defender. Instead, the seven EVs will see action in real world trials later this year.

Matt Bird