Converting a car to electric drive isn't always straightforward. Ford's wildly popular Eluminator crate motor has been a sell-out success, but it doesn't come with a battery or the rest of a powertrain, so it's far from plug and play. The retro electrification experts at Electrogenic, though, have made a kit that allows pretty much any garage in the United Kingdom to swap old Land Rover Defenders to electric.
It's appropriate this has dropped as people are heading to the U.K.'s Glastonbury Festival because this project started with Worthy Farm, the site that hosts Glastonbury, and an Innovate U.K. grant to develop converted Land Rover Defenders. Electrogenic and the farm got the job done, starting in November 2020, and now others can get in on that sweet conversion action, too.
It's important to note that Defenders in the U.K. are often used for work purposes, not just long-distance overlanding. That makes them the perfect application, more or less, for powertrain swaps like this. They typically stay on the property or make runs to and from local shops, so they don't have to go hundreds of miles off the grid.
The conversion kit costs about $29,460—or £24,000—and from the usage on the farm, Electrogenic reckons it will pay that back in four years via savings in fuel prices. It comes with a 53-kilowatt-hour battery that gets over 100 miles of range on roads and apparently more when off-roading, which is where these working vehicles are meant to be.
An 80-kilowatt motor means the trucks get a nice power boost from the old diesel lumps and that the zero-to-60 time drops from 19 to 16 seconds. Towing is still absolutely possible, which is important for rigs such as these.
The Worthy Farm manager said the four converted Defenders are working out really well. “They’re good little Land Rovers. We use them on a daily basis and they do everything we want them to do. Financially they’re great: each one saves about £6,000 ($7,370) a year in fuel plus there’s no road tax and less maintenance. There’s no worrying about driving to a petrol station, just unplug and off you go, and on cold frosty mornings, there’s a little switch and you have instant heat.”
The conversion is genuinely simple, too. The battery comes as two packs that sit in the engine bay, and the motor directly replaces the old diesel engine while using the original gearbox. There's a three-position rocker switch, once it's done, that the Electrogenic kit uses to simulate engine braking with the electric system, for towing downhill.
I've reached out to Electrogenic and asked if the conversion kits will be available in the United States. Once I hear back, I'll be sure to update this space.
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