Land Rover will be unveiling the new electric Defender next week at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, along with the world’s first nine-speed automatic transmission. Keeping with Land Rover tradition, both will maintains their go-anywhere capabilities, but now with a modern take.
The standard diesel engine and gearbox in the Defender 110, which has not been sold in the U.S. since the 1990s, have been replaced by a 94 horsepower electric motor, paired with a 27-kilowatt-hour–3 kWh larger than the Nissan Leaf’s–lithium-ion battery that gives a range of over 50 miles. That’s more than a third less distance than the Leaf, but the Leaf isn’t shaped like a shoe box and doesn’t weigh two and a half tons.
When off-road at a low speed, the vehicle can last eight hours before needing to recharge. These electric Defender still retains a four-wheel-drive system and differential lock, and because the electric motor can deliver maximum torque–pulling force–from the moment it’s engaged, there is no need for gear-shifting. Land Rover’s Terrain Response System has also been added to the Defender.
The battery weighs 904 pounds, mounted in the front of the Defender, taking place of the diesel engine. All components are air-cooled rather than liquid-cooled, which increases weight savings. “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 one day be introduced into future Land Rover models,” said Antony Harper, Jaguar Land Rover Head of Research in a statement.
As of now, there are no plans for the electric Defender to enter production, but later this year, the electric vehicles will enter real-world trials.
Also of note, Land Rover and ZF, the world’s largest producer of transmissions, have joined forces to produce the first ever nine-speed automatic transmission. The increase in gear ratios from six to nine greatly improves fuel economy and reduces emissions. Among those improvements, response during acceleration and shift quality are improved thanks to the new transmission. It will be used in the Range Rover Evoque and may see time in the Land Rover LR2, which is known outside the U.S. as the Freelander.
“We are extremely excited about the 9HP which has been tailored exactly to dovetail with the unique attributes of our vehicles. It will add another layer of performance, refinement and efficiency, further enhancing Land Rover’s world class abilities,” said Land Rover’s Global Brand Director, John Edwards, in a statement.
This new shifting system sharpens up during brisk driving and can slip easily into a more economical state when the driver takes a more relaxed approach. The nine-speed transmission is only 0.2 inches longer that the six-speed automatic transmission it replaces and weighs 16.5 pounds less.
Source: Land Rover